Super GT 2010 - Round 6 Suzuka

BY Burnpavement

Team strength brings ARTA HSV-010 its first win of the season while MOTUL AUTECH GT-R passes RAYBRIG HSV-010 to finish second!

Photos: Super GT

The 39th INTERNATIONAL Pokka GT Summer Special, Round 6 of the 2010 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place on August 22 at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Pref. In the GT500 class the winner was the No. 8 ARTA HSV-010 (Ralph Firman/Yuji Ide/Takashi Kobayashi). The GT300 class race was won by the No. 64 R&D SPORT LEGACY B4 (Tetsuya Yamano/ Kota Sasaki).

With the race starting at 15:00, there were few changes in the order of the leading cars in the early stages. Pressing forward steadily, the pole-starting No.8 ARTA HSV-010 (Yuji Ide) had built up a five seconds lead over the second placed No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama) by lap five. As the result of an apparent brush-up with a GT300 class back marker, the lead car No. 8 suffered damage to its lower left aerodynamic parts but that didn't seem to affect Ide's lap times. However, when Ide brought the ARTA back to the pit for its first routine pit stop at the end of lap 26, it took time to remove the damaged parts from the car, resulting in a twice as long lengthy pit stop than normal. By the time No. 8 returned to the race it had been passed by its rival, and all the other cars had already finished their first pit stop about a quarter of the way into the race, with No. 8 in fourth position. At this point, the No.32 EPSON HSV-010 (Ryo Michigami/Yuhki Nakayama) was leading. By shortening the first stint and making an early pit stop after the 17th lap, No. 32 had avoided the late rush of pit stops and succeeded in taking the lead.

Standing in second place was the No.100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa/Naoki Yamamoto), having passed car No. 23 (Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) earlier, and in third place was car No. 23. As car No. 32 (Nakayama/Michigami) made its second pit stop at the end of lap, car No. 100 (Yamamoto/Izawa) took the lead and No. 23 (Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) was in second, while No. 8 (Ide/Ralph Firman) moved up to third position. On the S curve of lap 52, however, Treluyer in car No. 23 hit a back marker and spun out. He recovered quickly but not before Firman in car No. 8 managed to get past him. After all cars had finished their second pit stop by lap 60, the order of the top three was No. 32 (Michigami) followed by No. 8 (Ide) and No. 100 (Izawa). At the end of lap 71, Car no. 32 pulled into the pit for its third routine pit stop. They changed drivers from Michigami to Nakayama and thus satisfied the requirement of three driver changes, but due to the fuel consumption rate of the car, they would need to make one more pit stop for refueling before the end of the race. In an attempt to open up the necessary margin for that final stop, Nakayama pushed hard. With the sun setting and the track surface temperature dropping, Nakayama managed to run lap times in the 1 minute 57 seconds range.

As for the other leaders, car No. 23 made its third pit stop at the end of lap 88, car No. 100 at the end of lap 93 and Car No. 8 lap 95. Although team No. 23 finished their pit work fastest of the three, the order when they had all returned to the race was No. 8 (Firman) in second place, No. 100 (Yamamoto) in third and No. 23 (Treluyer) in fourth. At the end of lap 97, car No. 32 returned for its fourth pit stop of the race. The team hustled to change tyres, add the necessary fuel, change drivers to Michigami and return to the track as quickly as possible, but the haste had resulted in an incomplete mounting of the right rear wheel that caused it to come off. The time it took to push the car back and remount the tyre cost the team any chance of a podium finish.

This gave car No. 8 (Firman) a margin of ease at the front of the race. After the "Lights ON" board came out in the growing dark over Suzuka circuit, Firman continued to race on unchallenged to victory with a 22 seconds margin over second. For the No. 8 ARTA HSV-010 (Ralph Firman/Yuji Ide/Takashi Kobayashi), this was their first win of the season. For the ARTA team it is their first win since the final race of the 2009 season at Motegi. In the battle for second, Treluyer in car No. 23 passed Yamamoto in car No. 100 in the chicane, and although Yamamoto managed to stay on Treluyer's tail, he never had a chance to regain second. With this, the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) took second and the No.100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa/Naoki Yamamoto) finished third.

In the GT300 race, the No. 62 R&D SPORT LEGACY B4 (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki) rose from 11th position on the class grid to advance steadily through the pack from the early stages of the race and finally take a well-earned victory. Tetsuya Yamano was the starting driver in car No. 62. With collisions between the pole-starting No. 26 CINE CITTA' TAISAN PORSCHE (Shogo Mitsuyama) and the No. 25 ZENT Porsche RSR (Takeshi Tsuchiya) and also between the No. 2 Apple·K-one·Shiden (Hiroki Katoh) and the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Shinichi Takagi), the top qualifying teams lost ground as car No. 62 moved up steadily. By lap four Yamano (No. 62) had moved into ninth position and by lap nine he was in seventh. Continuing to pass rival one after the other, he was in sixth by lap 12 and found himself in second place by lap 18. Yamano brought No. 62 in for its first routine pit stop at the end of lap 29. At the wheel for the second stint, teammate Kota Sasaki raced on efficiently with no loss and gradually closed in on the leader, the No. 74 COROLLA AXIO apr GT (Takuto Iguchi/Yuji Kunimoto). The top two both made their second routine pit stop at the end of lap 60.

No. 62 changed drivers from Sasaki to Yamano while No. 74 changed from Kunimoto to Iguchi and the two cars returned to the track to begin the battle anew. However, the gap between them was never close enough to bring on a real nose-to-tail dogfight. For the third pit stop, once again the two lead cars entered the pit at the same time on lap 84, but this time No. 62 had the faster pit work and was able to return to the track in the lead. With 30 laps remaining in the race, Sasaki (No. 62) raced hard in front of Kunimoto (No. 74) to try to break away for the win. Unable to match the pace of No. 62, Kunimoto in car No. 74 began to fall back gradually and faced a challenge from behind by car No. 43 (Morio Nitta) which had recovered position after its collision early in the race. After the sun had set, the battle for second heated up. On the 130R curve of the 108th lap the decisive move was made. Perhaps distracted by the lights of veteran Nitta approaching from behind in car No. 43, Kunimoto overran the turn. This allowed Nitta to slip by into second place.

Meanwhile, No. 62 was charging ahead in the lead with an unwavering pace. By the time Sasaki (No. 62) took the chequered at the finish, he had a 10 seconds margin over second. This was the first GT victory for the No. 62 R&D SPORT LEGACY B4 (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki). Finishing second was the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta/Shinichi Takagi), which puts the Nitta/Takagi pair in the lead in rankings. The third spot on the winners' podium went to the No. 74 COROLLA AXIO apr GT (Takuto Iguchi/Yuji Kunimoto).