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ASTEMO NSX-GT WINS SUPER GT BY A CLOSE MARGIN AT FUJI

The Takanokono Hotel FUJI GT 500km RACE, round 2 of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series was held on the afternoon of May 4th (Tues., holiday) at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m × 110 laps). In the GT500 class, the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Bertrand Baguette) took the lead with a well-timed pit stop and held off the pursuers in the second half to take the win. In the GT300 class, the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshimoto/Shunsuke Kohno) took the win.

Under clear May skies that continued from the day before, the 500-km race began at 2:30 in the afternoon. Taking the hole shot at the start was the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT(Nirei Fukuzumi) starting from the second spot on the grid. Meanwhile, the pole-starting No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Ritomo Miyata) dropped to 6th position on the first lap of the race. Then, on the third lap, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) suffered machine trouble. Coming to a stop, it brought out the Safety Car. When the race restarted, it was the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Sho Tsuboi) that moved into the lead. After that, cars No. 36 and No. 8 joined in the battle for the lead until the first pit stops began after the 30th lap of the race. When a Full Course Yellow (FCY) sign appeared just at this time, it through the battle for the into a state of confusion. Having been fortunate to make its pit stop just before the FCY took effect, the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) suddenly found itself in the lead. Meanwhile, Car No. 36, having made its pit stop on the 39th lap, now found itself about 5 sec. behind the new leader. After that, car No. 17 (Bertrand Baguette) began to extend its margin of lead.

As the race entered its second half, the leading car No. 17 had built up a lead of roughly 15 sec. over second place by the 60th lap. If it could get through its second pit stop without mishap, No. 17 seemed to have a strong chance of taking the win. And it was No. 17 that was first to make that second pit stop on the 68th lap of the race. Due to a slight loss of time during its tire change, No.17 found itself in a battle for the lead with car No. 8 (Fukuzumi), which had made its pit stop on the 78th lap, and at one point surrendered the lead to No. 8. But it turned out that No. 8 was given a drive-through penalty for passing a GT300 car during the yellow flag period. After that, another contender for the lead, car No. 36 (Tsuboi) suffered machine trouble on the 98th lap and dropped out of contention. In the end, cars No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kenta Yamashita) and No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra Ryo Hirakawa) were closing in on the leading No. 17, but it held out to grab its first win of the season by a narrow margin. Finishing 2nd was the winner of the previous race, the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra Kazuya Oshima/Kenta Yamashita), while 3rd went to the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra Ryo Hirakawa/Sena Sakaguchi). Among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 cars, the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate/Katsumasa Chiyo) in 5th place.

In the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Hideki Yamauchi) ran away in the lead while being chased by the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Ren Sato) and the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT (Shunsuke Kohno). After that, the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) took the lead by foregoing a tire change at their first pit stop but fell back in the final stages due to machine trouble. After that, Kohno in car No. 60 took the lead after passing car No. 61 (Yamauchi) and from there the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshimoto/Shunsuke Kohno) went on to take the win by a narrow margin. Finishing 2nd was the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT, while 3rd place went to the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Ren Sato).

Winner Comments

GT500

No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT
Koudai Tsukakoshi
“I made a mistake in yesterday’s qualifying, and I wasn’t able show real speed in the first stint to give us any good momentum. But thanks to good judgement by the team, we were able to take the lead thanks to the right timing of our pit stop. After that, Baguette kept the lead well for us. With the help of everyone on the team, I was able to hold off the pressure from behind. This was truly a team victory. Next time I want to show some decisive speed myself to get us a win.”

Bertrand Baguette
“For my stint I was able go out in the lead after the pit stop thanks to the good strategy and judgement of the team. After that, the tire choice turned out to be right too. This was truly a fortunate win for us.”

GT300

No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT
Hiroki Yoshimoto
“Last year the performances of younger drivers really stood out in SUPER GT as a whole, but we had a difficult season and Shunsuke (Kohno) wasn’t able to get any good race results. But this year, I felt that we were able to provide a much better competitive environment, and already we have this win, which I am really glad to have Shunsuke to experience. From this season we have the GR Supra GT, and I feel that the condition of the team and the car are both outstanding. And after changing once, Dunlop fortunately took us back and supplied us with fantastic tires. This time the machine trouble of car No. 52 was a big factor, but next time I want to see us come back even stronger and take our next win.”

Shunsuke Kohno
“I’m so happy [for this first win] that I think I am going to cry. The car that the team prepared for us and the tire that Dunlop brought for us were both great, and that enabled us to run at a good pace and hold out in the competitive parts of the race. At the end, I was able to pass [the car in front of me]. To win that way was great. I am very happy.”

Source. Super GT

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