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RAYBRIG NSX-GT IN DRAMATIC LAST LAP SUPER GT VICTORY

The Takanokono Hotel FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 8 of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m×65 laps) in Shizuoka Prefecture on November 29 (Sun). In the GT500 class, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) won the race, and in doing so won the series Drivers and Team titles as well. In the GT300 class, the SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) won the race from pole position, while the class title went to the No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira).

Pole position-starting KeePer TOM’S GR Supra runs strongly in the lead

The final round race of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series began with nine teams and 16 drivers still holding a chance at the series title. The pre-start formation laps began in the afternoon at 13:00. Originally, two formation laps were planned before the start, but with the air temperature at a chilly 9℃ and the track surface temperature at just 17℃, it was decided to add an extra formation lap and therefore reduce the race distance by one lap to a total of 65 race laps.

At the start, it was the pole-sitting No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Kenta Yamashita) that moved out into the lead. But, closing in from behind after a 6th-position grid start came the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli), who had passed the No. 38 ZENT GR Supra (Yuji Tachikawa) at the Coca-Cola Corner of the first lap to move up into 4th position before going on to pass cars No. 37 and No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Heikki Kovalainen) in the Dunlop Corner, and then the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Sacha Fenestraz) to take the lead all at once.

However, after that No. 37 continue to tail No. 23 until finally, on the last turn of lap 6, it was able to pull up even on the inside of No. 23 and then pass it on the home straight to retake the lead. After that, No. 23 gradually began to fall off the pace and drop back eventually to 7th place by the 16th lap of the race.

Meanwhile, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Tadasuke Makino), had moved up rapidly into 3rd position from a 7th position grid start, caught and passed car No. 36 as it got stuck behind back markers at the Panasonic Corner (last turn) of the 20th lap. But coming down the home straight, No. 36 was able to re-pass No. 100 and take back 2nd position. No. 100 wasn’t finished yet, however, as it came back once again on the Dunlop Corner of the 21st lap to get on the inside of No. 36 and take back its position in 2nd. From there, No. 100 was quick to make its pit stop at the end of lap 22 (the earliest possible timing for a routine pit stop and driver change under the regulation of being past 1/3rd of the race distance) and change drivers to Yamamoto.

On this same lap, the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (changing drivers Bertrand Baguette to Koudai Tsukakoshi) and the No. 14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima to Sho Tsuboi) also made their pit stops, with No. 14 opting for a no-tire-change strategy to greatly reduce pit-work time. In contrast, well in the lead now, No. 37 waited until lap 23 to make its pit stop. After completing its pit work and changing drivers to Hirakawa, No. 37 was able to get back on the track in front of car No. 14, which had assumed the lead in the interim. No. 14 was able to get in front of No. 37 before its new tires warmed up on the first lap out of the pit, but on the ADVAN Corner of the 27th lap, No. 37 passed No. 14 on the inside to regain the lead. As it continued to pick up the pace, No. 37 gradually began to pull away from the following pack.

Having opted for no tire change to move up in position, No. 14 was now unable to pick up the pace, and soon it was caught by cars No. 100 and No. 36 (Sekiguchi) and a fierce battle for 2nd place ensued. On the TGR Corner (first turn) of the 30th lap, car No. 100 took advantage of the jostling between the two GR Supra cars to slip past both of them all at once and reclaim 2nd position in the race. While that was happening, there was a collision between cars No. 36 and No. 14 that case damage to the latter’s front hood that necessitated a return to the pit for repairs. At one point, No. 14 returned to the race, but on the 34th lap it returned to the pit again and its race ended there.

Running in the lead, something happens to No. 37!? RAYBRIG NSX-GT’s all-out charge ends in a turn-around victory

The second half of the race once again saw the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Hirakawa) run away in the lead, building up a 14-sec. lead over the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Yamamoto) by the 33rd lap of the race, which continued to grow to 16 sec. by the 40th lap.

For some reason, however, the 1’29 to 1’31 sec. lap times that No. 37 had maintained until then had dropped to the 1’33 range from the 46th lap. Although it recovered to 1’31 on the 47th lap, it would drop once again to the 1’32 to 1’33 sec. range. Compared to this, car No. 100 continued its chase with lap time ranging from the just over 1’31 sec. to just over 1’32 sec. This meant that the gap between the two leaders was gradually closing, down to a margin of 11 sec. by the 53rd lap and to 4.619 sec. by the 58th lap. This prompted No. 37 to pick up its pace to a 1’31.862 on the 62nd lap. At this point in the race, No. 100 had closed the gap to 2.079 sec. In response to this, Hirakawa in No. 37 tried once again to pull away, recording lap times of 1’30.852 on the 63rd lap and 1’30.547 on the 64th, opening up the lead over Yamamoto in car No. 100 slightly to 2.717 sec. as the race entered its final lap.

But, entering the final part of that last lap, the pace of No. 37 began to drop sharply. It was showing signs of running out of gas, and as it came out of the final Panasonic Corner, it was down to a slow pace. It was no trouble then for Yamamoto in the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT to run right past it to an astonishing come-from-behind victory. With this, the driver pair of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino and TEAM KUNIMITSU won the 2020 series Drivers and Team championship titles.

The No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa) was barely able to roll across the finish line to finish in 2nd place. However, with no power left it came to a stop as soon as Hirakawa steered it off the track. Crossing the finish line in 3rd place was the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi), while 4th place went to the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) that had battled up from a 12th-position grid start. The highest finisher among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 cars was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate/Katsumasa Chiyo) in 6th place.

Source. Super GT

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