The MOTEGI GT 300km RACE, Round 7 of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series took place on the afternoon of November 7 (Sun.) at Twin Ring Motegi circuit (one lap 4,801m x 63 laps) in Tochigi Prefecture. In the GT500 class, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri/Nirei Fukuzumi) pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the final lap of the race to score their second straight win of the series. In the GT300 class, the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Shintaro Kawabata/Takuro Shinohara) came from a 5th- position start to claim victory.
In the same warm conditions and clear autumn skies as the previous day’s qualifying, the seventh race of the series started at 1:00 in the afternoon. In the GT500 class, the pole-starting No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra kept its lead position after the start, while the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R starting in 4th position got a fast start that put it in 2nd position. Following in 3rd position was the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi). During difficult conditions in the early stages of the race that saw an FCY (Full Course Yellow) imposed twice, a heated battle between cars No. 12 and No. 19 developed. Eventually it was car No. 12 that emerged in the lead on the 21st lap. From there, No. 12 maintained its lead over the leading group and was first to make its routine pit stop. And by the time all of the GT500 class cars had completed their pit stops, car No. 12 had maintained its lead in the race. Following close behind No. 12 was Tomoki Nojiri in car No. 8. As these two cars battled at the front in the second half of the race, they pulled away from the rest of the lead pack. From around the time the race entered the last 15 laps, the gap between cars No. 12 and No. 8 was down to less than one second. Until the last lap of the race, Hiramine in car No. 12 continued to block every attempt by Nojiri to pass him with no mistakes. And just as it looked as if he was going to run on to victory, his car No. 12 began to lose speed from the third turn. This allowed car No. 8 to pass it and run on to its second consecutive win of the series, following its win in the previous round at Autopolis. Car No. 12 managed to struggle on to the finish, but not before being passed also by car No. 19, which left it to finish in 3rd place. With this, as in qualifying, all three makers had one car each on the podium.
The leader in the Drivers ranking, the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) finished out of the points this time in 12th place but still managed to maintain their place at the top of the ranking. With these results, there will be six teams, including No. 1 and No. 8 competing for the 2021 series championship title in the final round at Fuji Speedway.
At the start of the GT300 class race, the 2nd-position grid starter, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT GT300 emerged in the lead. But during its routine pit stop, the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Shintaro Kawabata/Takuro Shinohara) that had started from 5th position on the grid opted to save time by changing only its two rear tires and succeeded in emerging in the led for the second half of the race. From there, it was able to hold off the challenge from behind be the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Ren Sato) and take its first win since last year’s Round 6 at Suzuka. Finishing 2nd was car No. 55, while third place went to the No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira), and with this finish, No. 56 moved to within six points of the leader of the Drivers ranking, team No. 61. All in all, this means that there are among five teams that have a shot at winning a series title in the final round of the season at Fuji Speedway.
(Spectators: 12,000 at the final on Nov. 7; 6,100 at the qualifying on Nov. 6)
No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT
“We ended up running behind car No. 12 for 99% of the race, so in that sense we have to admit that they beat us. But because No. 12’s pit time had been shortened, I intuitively sensed that if I pressed hard on them, they would eventually suffer in terms of fuel economy. So, I just kept pushing as hard as I could. There were times when I had changes to make a pass but failed to, and I am disappointed with that. And I was also thinking it would be bad for Fukuzumi-san if I couldn’t give him his third win in a row (including one in another series). So, I was just kept pushing on hoping that something would happen. And maybe it was my desperate prayer that somehow I could take the lead that was heard in the end.”
“It my lack of aggressiveness at the start that let car No. 12 get in front of us and put Nojiri-san in such a difficult position in the second half of the race. As I watch the second half, I was really sorry for what he had to go through. I am glad that we got this win, but I just want to thank Nojiri-san and the team for covering for my mistakes.”
No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS
“We have been unable to win any points since our win last year (at Round 6 at Suzuka), and since I am in a position where I am supposed to lead the team, I felt a lot of pressure. This season I have a new driver partner in Shinohara-san, which meant that we were staring from scratch again, but he has made great progress. So, I am really glad to be able to give this win to our representative Hitotsuyama san and the team.”
“There is nothing to say but how great this first win is. Since this is my first experience as a full-time driver, I know I caused trouble for the team in the qualifying until now. But since things went well this time and Kawabata-san ran so strongly in the first half and the team’s pit work went so well, I am very happy that I was able to take the lead in the second half and go on to take the win.”
Source. Super GT