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The FUJIMAKI GROUP SUZUKA GT 450km RACE, Round 5 of the 2022 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Suzuka Circuit (1 lap 5,807m) in Mie Prefecture on August 28 (Sun.).
In the GT500 class, the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z (Kazuki Hiramine/Bertrand Baguette) started from the last position of 15th on the staring grid to charge ahead in magnificent style and take the win. In the GT300 class, the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) executed a skillful race strategy to take its first win in five years.

This 450 km Round 5 race was competed over a distance 150 km longer than the Round 3 race held earlier this season at Suzuka. The race started at 2:30 in the afternoon with the air temperature standing at 28 degrees Celsius. In the early stages of the GT500 class race, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH Z (Ronnie Quintarelli), the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Nobuharu Matsushita) and the No. 16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Ukyo Sasahara) battled for the lead. After the 10th lap of the race, the pace of the leading car No. 23 began to slow, causing it to opt for an early pit stop on the 17th lap. The remaining top three waited until after completing 1/3rd of the race distance before making their respective pit stops between the 26th and 30th laps of the race. When all of the cars had finished their pit stops, car No. 16 (Toshiki Oyu) was in the lead, followed by car No. 23 in 2nd place and the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO GR Supra (Hiroaki Ishiura) that had started the race in 5th position now in 3rd. Even after changing its tires, the pace of car No. 23 was still not good, causing it to drop to 4th position at one point. After making the second pit stop on the 41st lap, the other cars followed suit by returning for their required second pit stop one after another.
In the meanwhile, there was a crash on the 49th lap by a GT300 class car that brought out the Safety Car to control the race. This proved to be detrimental to the strategy of the leading cars No. 16 and No. 38 that had been delaying their second pit stop, and to the degree that they lost position after finally completing their respective second pit stops.
With this development, the battle for the lead in the final stages of the race came down to car No. 17 (Koudai Tsukakoshi), No. 23 (Tsugio Matsuda) and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z (Bertrand Baguette), which had worked up steadily through the pack in a relentless charge after starting the race from the last spot on the grid. Eventually, car No. 23 was charged with a penalty for what was deemed to be dangerous moves in trying to hold off the pursuing car No. 12. That dropped the former out of competition for the lead. As car No. 17’s pace began to slow in the final stages of the race, it was passed by No. 12 with three laps remaining to the finish. From there, Hiramine in the CALSONIC IMPUL Z ran on to take the checkered flag and the win. For Hiramine, it was his first win since Round 5 of last year’s season, and for Baguette it was his first win since moving to the Nissan team. For the Nissan Z GT500 it was the second win of this season. Finishing 2nd was the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Nobuharu Matsushita). Third place went to the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuichi Nakayama), thus putting one team from each of the three makers on the winners’ podium.

 In the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 10 TANAX GAINER GT-R (Riki Okusa) had pulled away in the lead, but the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Tatsuya Kataoka) was able to take that lead away thanks to an early pit stop. After the final pit stop, car No. 4’s ace driver, Nobuteru Taniguchi, was able to hold on to his lead and take his first win since the opening round of the 2017 season. The 2nd-place finisher was car No. 10 (Ryuichiro Tomita/Riki Okusa/Yusuke Shiotsu) and 3rd place when to the No. 30 apr GR86 GT (Manabu Orido/Hibiki Taira/Yuta Kamimura), which gave the TOYOTA GR86 GT its first podium finish of its debut season.

Spectators: Aug. 28 final: 16,500; Aug. 27th qualifying: 9,000

Winner Comments

Kazuki Hiramine
“I really owe this win to everyone. Thank you so much! During the battle with car No. 23 there was one moment when I felt the pressure after running off the track. But the rest of the time I though about Manager Hoshino and the voices of the fans cheering us on and just drove on with all the determination and strength I could muster. I feel as if I don’t have an ounce of fight left in me right now. The truth is that I didn’t even know I was battling for the lead until about the last three laps. That is how spent I was. But the car and the tire’s performance were everything. I have nothing but gratitude for it all!”

Bertrand Baguette
“This is my first win as a Nissan driver. It was really a tough survival race. Although we started from the very back of the pack, we were able to put together a very strong race effort. The job that Hiramine-san did for us was especially fantastic. I am so glad that the two of us, together with the team, were able to get this win.”

Nobuteru Taniguchi
“I am just so happy! At the goal I didn’t have any tears left cry. In the last race we had gone from elation to complete despair (having lost the race to last-minute machine trouble). So, I am so glad to get this first win in five years. And it is especially rewarding since this is our first win at Suzuka. Until now, everyone had said that we were no good at Suzuka, but now that has proven to be a lie (wry smile).”

Tatsuya Kataoka
“After my stint all I could do was to watch the race, and since we had suffered such a disappointment last time, I was on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding all the way to the checkered flag. I am still so full of thoughts about what happened in the last race and the fact that this is our first win in five years, that I guess I won’t be able to really savor this win until sometime tomorrow (laughs). And since many of us on the team have individual sponsors, I want to have a big celebration for everyone who has waited with us for this victory.”

Source. Super GT


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