The Takanokono Hotel SUZUKA GT 300km RACE, Round 3 of the 2022 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Suzuka circuit (one lap 5,807m × 52 laps) in Mie Prefecture on the afternoon of May 29 (Sun). In a rough race that saw the Safety Car brought out twice, the GT500 class winner was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z (Katsumasa Chiyo/Mitsunori Takaboshi) took its first win in the Nissan Z GT500’s debut season. In the GT300 class race, the winner was the No. 7 Studie BMW M4 (Seiji Ara/Tsubasa Kondo).
The race of Round 3 of the 2022 season started 10 minutes later than scheduled at 2:40 in the afternoon. This day at Suzuka saw a mid-summer temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. From the first lap of the race, the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z (Katsumasa Chiyo) starting from 3rd position on the grid passed the 2nd position starter, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Sacha Fenestraz) and the pole-starting No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Yuji Kunimoto) to take the early lead. On the second lap, the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z developed machine trouble that brought it to a stop at trackside and resulted in a Full Course Yellow condition to be called. What’s more, on the 11th lap further stops by a GT300 class car and the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO GR Supra brought out the Safety Car, which cancelled out the lead that car No. 3 had built up to that point. But after the restart car No. 3’s pace remained fast and enabled it to pull away from cars No. 37 and the No.17 Astemo NSX-GT (Nobuharu Matsushita) in 2nd and 3rd places. From the end of the 17th lap, the teams began to make their routine pit stops, and here the No. 3 team were especially fast in their pit work, enabling the second stint driver Mitsunori Takaboshi to return to the race with its lead intact.
In the second half of the race, car No. 3’s pace remained dominant ad it pulled away from car No. 17 (Kodai Tsukakoshi) that had taken over 2nd position and build up a lead as large as about 20 sec. But, on the 39th lap of the race, the No. 16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT collided with a GT300 class car, bringing out the Safety Car for the second time in the race. This made car No. 3 lose its lead once again, but with a brilliant restart by Takaboshi, he was able to once again open up a lead over car No. 17 and car No. 37 (Ritomo Miyata). From here, the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z ran on unchallenged to victory. The No. 3 car had suffered a big crash in the last round that caused heavy damage. But the team had managed to recover magnificently in just three weeks since then to stage this impressive victory, a truly memorable first GT500 win for the new Nissan Z GT500 and its two drivers. The 2nd and 3rd place finishers were the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT and the No.37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra, which meant that for the third straight time in this year’s series, all three makers mounted the podium.
In the GT300 class race, Seiji Ara in the No. 7 Studie BMW M4 started from pole position and successfully commanded the lead. Despite losing their margin of lead in the two Safety Car interventions during the race, both Ara and Tsubasa Kondo in the second stint maintained their lead to the end. Finishing 2nd was the No. 5 MACHSYAKEN AIR BUSTER MC86 MACH GO (Yusuke Tomibayashi/Reiji Hiraki). Third place went to the No. 56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira).
(Spectators: 21,000 on May 29 (race day) / 11,000 on May 28th (qualifying day)
No.3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z
“In the previous round we suffered a big crash that might have threatened Takaboshi-san’s career as a racer. The machine was badly damaged, but the team worked hard in the limited time to rebuild it for us. From the start I pushed hard with a determination that we would win this race for sure. Takaboshi san had been going through rehabilitation, and due to the difficult timing of this race at Suzuka, he had little running time on the track in preparation, so I wanted to give him as much of a lead as possible. But the machine and the tires were just amazingly good. So, I just wanted to live up to the expectations of Takaboshi-san and the team and win this race.
“Since Chiyo-san came back from the first stint with the lead for us, I felt a lot of pressure, as I had yesterday. I the warm-up before the race, there was a Red Flag that kept me from being able to drive, so I wasn’t able to prepare for a long run. But when I saw Chiyo-san’s times, I thought we could do well today. Our pit work was also very fast, so I was able to get out there with about a 20-second lead, but then there was a Safety Car intervention. I thought we were running a bad streak of luck. But after the restart, the Michelin tires were so good that I was able to pull away from the competition and run on to the win. I am happy to get this first win, but even more than that I was feeling sorry for the concerns I caused the team [with the crash] in the last round. So I am really happy about this result.”
No.7 Studie BMW M4
“I have had numerous wins in GT500, but this is my first in GT300, so I am very happy. During the race, the speed of the M4 and the performance of the Michelin tires were everything, and I am very happy to get this result in the race.”
“The machine and the tires that the team prepared for us were just incredible that I was able to run steadily the whole time. I felt good running each and every lap. It was really great to get this win. I am so happy about it all.”
Source. Super GT