The SUGO GT 300km RACE, Round 5 of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at Sportsland SUGO circuit (one lap: 3.586 km x 84 laps) in Miyagi Prefecture on the afternoon of September 12 (Sun.). In the GT500 class, the winner was the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R driven by Kazuki Hiramine and Nobuharu Matsushita, taking their first GT500 class race win since 2016. In the GT300 class, after taking their third pole position of the season, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi) went on to take their first win in three years.
Race day proved to be hotter than during the previous day’s qualifying, with the air temperature at the 1:30 start standing at 28℃. Due to the failure to achieve a proper formation during the planned 2-lap formation run, a third lap was added, and the race distance was thus reduced to 83 laps.
After starting from pole position, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri) began to pull away from the pack. Starting from 2nd position on the grid, the No.16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Toshiki Oyu) began to gradually fall off the pace and was passed by the 3rd-position grid starting No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Nobuharu Matsushita), which then took over 2nd position in the race. In the middle stages of the race, after the GT500 class cars had finished their routine pit stop, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi) still held the lead. Chasing the leader were the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Kazuki Hiramine), the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) and the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate), but the gaps between them remained much the same and it looked as if the race might continue on that way.
However, a series of upsets were in the waiting. To begin with, car No. 3 suffered machine trouble that forced it out of the race. Then, when a GT500 caught fire and came to a stop, it brought out the Safety Car. Just before this, the leading car No. 8 was given a drive-through penalty for a pit stop violation. This meant that when the Safety Car withdrew from the track, car No. 12 was leading the race. After that, an Full Course Yellow (FCY) state was called when one car came to a stop at trackside, but car No. 12 was able to run on to the win without giving up the lead.
For the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Kazuki Hiramine/Nobuharu Matsushita) this was the team’s first win since Round 5 of the 2016 season, and it was the first GT500 win for both Hiramine and Matsushita. Finishing 2nd after a very impressive charge to the front was the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino), while the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Bertrand Baguette) finished 3rd. The top finisher among the TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 teams was the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sho Tsuboi) in 4th place.
In the GT300 class, the pole-starting No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi) ran away in the lead and maintained the lead going into the second half of the race after the routine pit stops with Hideki Yamauchi now at the wheel. In addition to race developments that included entry by the Safety Car and an FCY call, there was also a bump-up with the 2nd-place running 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Ren Sato), but through it all No. 61 maintained a consistent pace to take the checkered flag and the win without ever having been passed, and thus scored it first victory since Round 6 at SUGO in the 2018 season. Finishing 2nd was car No. 55, while 3rd place went to last year’s GT300 champions, the No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira).
No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R
“I really have no words to explain how I feel right now. It has really been a long struggle (to this win). I know our IMPUL fans and everyone supporting us have been waiting for this win, so I am so sorry that it took this long. We have only been able to come this far thanks to your cheers of support. I want to thank you all so much!”
“Thank you all so much. We have all struggled so hard and suffered so much disappointment to reach this day. During the official practice on Saturday, I was really scolded by Manager Hoshino. But after being able to finish 3rd in the qualifying, he told me I would be responsible for starting the race. At first, I wasn’t able to pick up the pace, but in the end, we were still able to win the race. It is only thanks to Kazuki (Hiramine) and the team that I have been able to be part of this win in my first season in GT500, so I want to say thank you to everyone.”
No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
“This is really great! I can’t remember how many years it has been since I was given the job of being the starting driver. Since the team gave me this important role in such a big race, I did everything I could to open up as much of a lead as possible over the cars behind me. I was able to pass the lead on to Yamauchi-san and he ran so well to give us the win. There have been some difficulties in breaking in the new BRZ this season, but the work of the team and the tire maker has paid off to give us this fantastic race week.”
“Watching how hard Iguchi-san worked in the first stint to get such a lead over 2nd place, I knew I had to do my best as a driver, so I gave it my all. The remaining races of the season will be our “show time,” and since we will have a chance to show what we can do, I want to give it my best and work with Iguchi-san to win the season championship we want so much.”
Source. Super GT