The FUJIMAKI GROUP FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 8 (final race) of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m×66 laps) in Shizuoka Prefecture on November 28 (Sun). In the GT500 class, the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sho Tsuboi) charged hard to the front from a 4th-position grid start to take a come-from-behind victory. In the GT300 class, the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshimoto/Shunsuke Kohno) won the race. By finishing 3rd in this race, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi) were able to win the first-ever series title for a SUBARU car in the GT300 class.
The course at Fuji Speedway this day was blessed with fine weather for perfect race conditions with a spectacular view of nearby Mt. Fuji. At 1:00 in the afternoon, the final race of the season roared into action. In the GT500 class, the pole-starting No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra kept it lead. It was followed by two TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 cars, including the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra and the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT. In the early going, the No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R and No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT collided in an accident that effectively took them out of contention for the title. After that, there was another collision between two GT300 class cars that brought out the Safety Car to control the race. Then, after the restart, Yuhi Sekiguchi in car No. 36 succeeded in passing the leading car No. 14 to lead the race.
In the second half of the race, after all of the cars had completed their routine pit stops and driver changes, car No. 36 maintained a firm hold on its lead. By this time car No. 1, one of the title contenders, had dropped to 4th position, but if it could hold that position to the finish, it would clinch its second consecutive season title. Just as it was beginning to look as if its driver Naoki Yamamoto would succeed in this with his steady driving, he got caught up in a battle between GT300 class cars and collided with one of them. This damaged his car enough that he had to return to the pit for repairs, which took the team out of the title race for good.
In the end, car No. 36 ran on to victory. Car No. 1 finished the race without winning any series points, while the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT finished back in 6th place. These results gave both the series title and the Drivers title to the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sho Tsuboi) team in a dramatic come-from-behind double title finish to the season. The 2nd and 3rd place winners respectively in this race were the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa/Sacha Fenestraz) and the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Kenta Yamashita), while the next places down to 5th went to GR Supra GT500 cars. Since Nissan announced earlier that it would change its GT500 car for next season, this was the final race for the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500, but the best Nissan finisher in this climactic race was the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/ Ronnie Quintarelli) in 7th place.
In the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi) led the race in the first half. However, when all the cars had finished their routine pit stops it had dropped to 6th position, with two title contenders, the No. 55 ARTA NSX GT3 and No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R, closing in on it from behind. In the end, No. 61 was able to hold off these two rivals and finish the race in 3rd place. This gave the team the long-awaited first-ever GT300 class championship title for a SUBARU. After taking the lead in the race during the second half, the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT developed machine trouble that forced it to return to the pit. This enabled the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT (Daiki Yoshimoto/Shunsuke Kohno) to win its second round of the season following its victory in Round 2.
(Spectators: 35,300 at the race on Nov. 28; 23,200 at the qualifying on Nov. 27)
GT500 Class Series Champions and Race Winner Comments
No.36 au TOM’S GR Supra
“Before the start, I was working more toward winning this race without fail than taking the championship title. I went out with strong determination to pass any car running in front of me. That enabled me to end my stint with the lead, and from there I encouraged Tsuboi-san to just, “Go for it!” (laughs). I know the condition of the tires must have been tight, but he managed them well to the end and was able to give us the win. So I am very grateful to him for that.”
“I was disappointed that we finished the qualifying in 4th position, but in the first half of the race Sekiguchi-san ran with all his heart to give us the lead. In my stint I knew that I had to do my best to go for the win. And since the championship title depended on the finishing places of the other cars, all I was thinking about was winning this race and making up for the fact that I had to retire from the race in Round 2 after running in the lead. Since I was able to help us win this race and take the championship title as well, there is nothing that could make me happier than this.”
GT300 Series Champion Comments
No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
“This is fantastic, and I want to thank everyone. I still can’t believe that we are now the series champions. With the new BZR this year, we struggled a lot in the first half of the season, but I feel that all of the team’s efforts have paid off with this result. And in the second half of the race, I think it was Yamauchi-san’s strong determination to battle it out to the finish that brought us this great result. There have been many tough years up until now, but we always kept our believe that we could win the title and share it with our SUBARU fans. So, there can’t be anything more rewarding for all of us than this moment. It makes me incredibly happy.”
“I want to begin by thanking all of our SUBARU fans! I am just so happy for this moment. Being responsible for the second half of the race was a tough job and it was all I could do not to break under the pressure. But when I saw the SUBARU flags waving around the circuit, it doubled my determination to win the title by holding off the challengers behind me and focusing on until I could pass car No. 4 (in front of me). And it was great that at the very end I was able to get in front. Until now there have been many tough times in each season, but we were able to get through them because of the cheers from our fans. So, nothing can make me happier than the relief of finally being able to answer their expectations.”
GT300 Class Winner Comments
No.60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa GR Supra GT
“My feeling now is that, “We did it!” (laughs) Last season we struggled and finally got our first series points in the last round. But things changed completely this year with the new GR Supra and tires from Dunlop. Today we had decided to use the same type of routine as we used in Round 2, so we had Kohno-san run the first half, and I think it was the fantastic overtakes he made for us in that stint that made it such a good race for us. We have a strong affinity for Fuji, but this season I think we have also done well on other courses.”
“Although we weren’t able to remain as title contenders, but since we had won in Round 2 at fuji this year, we worked hard to finish the season with another good result here. Since yesterday the condition of the car had been good and it felt like the weather had been in our favor as well, and then Yoshimoto-san ran so well to get us the good qualifying position of 3rd. Since we had also qualified 3rd when we won in Round 2, I felt that we had a good flow going. That is why I drove in the first half like I did then. Everything fell into place, and though we may have had some good luck in the end (machine trouble for the leader), I am very glad that we were able to get this second straight win at Fuji.”
Source. Super GT