Super GT 2010 - Round 8 Motegi

BY Burnpavement

The 2010 season title goes to the Weider HSV-010 pair of Kogure and Duval, while the PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 pair of Wakisaka and Lotterer wins at Motegi!

Photos: Super GT

The MOTEGI GT 250 km RACE, Round 8 of the 2010 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, took place at the Twin Ring Motegi (Tochigi Pref.) on 24th October 2010. The GT500 class race was won by the No. 1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 driven by Juichi Wakisaka and Andre Lotterer while the GT300 class victory went to the No. 3 TOMICA Z driven by Kazuki Hoshino and Masataka Yanagida. For the 2010 Driver series title, the GT500 class was won by Takashi Kogure and Loic Duval (Weider HSV-010), who finished second in this race while the GT300 Driver title was claimed by the Hoshino/Yanagida pair.

It was the winner of this race, Juichi Wakisaka of the No.1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 team, and the second place finisher and season title winner Takashi Kogure of the No.18 Weider HSV-010 team who thrilled at the 2010 Super GT finale with a memorable battle over the second half of the race. As the second stint drivers for their respective teams, these two ace drivers were pitted against each other in a tense and close battle that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats right down to the closing seconds. Although second place was all he needed to clinch the season title, Kogure never let up the pressure as he stalked Wakisaka, waiting for his chance to steal the lead. As for Wakisaka, he fought a fair fight throughout, even though the two machines bumped each other at times in the heat of the competition. It was truly a showdown that will live on in the annals of Super GT history as a clash of the titans.

The race began exactly at 14:00 under cloudy skies, with the cars going into the first corner roughly in their grid order with pole-sitter Loic Duval leading in car No. 18. That changed on lap three when the No. 6 ENEOS SC430 (Bjorn Wirdheim) running in second place was given a 20-second penalty stop as Wirdheim had gone through a red light at the exit to the pit road while heading to the grid before the start of the race. This all but eliminated the title chances of the second ranked No. 6 team and appeared to take considerable pressure off No.18 immediately. However, Andre Lotterer in the No. 1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 had other ideas as he charged hard in pursuit of the leader. Lotterer had passed the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) on the opening lap, and with the penalty on No. 6, he stood in third position. On lap 14 he dispatched the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Toshihiro Kaneishi) and headed off in pursuit of No. 18. On the first corner of lap 19, Lotterer (No. 1) made a move on No. 18 (Duval). Without making any undue effort to block Lotterer's path, Duval let the No. 1 car past and into the lead.

Car No. 1 was the first of the two to make its pit stop, with Duval bringing his car No. 18 into the pit a lap later. The No. 1 team was about two seconds faster in its pit work, which meant that the two machines returned to the track with No. 1 in the lead and Juichi Wakisaka at the wheel. Meanwhile, Takashi Kogure took the wheel of car No.18. By the time all of the cars had finished their pit stops and returned to the track, No.1 (Wakisaka) was in the lead with No. 18 (Kogure) once again in second place. From this point began the most memorable battle of the 2010 season. On the first corner of lap 36, Kogure in car No. 18 moved up on the outside and pulled alongside Wakisaka (No. 1) and stayed there through the second corner and towards the third corner. The two machines bumped each other lightly as they ran side-by-side, but they kept the fight fair with neither trying to push the other off the track. Eventually, Wakisaka in car No. 1 emerged the winner of this skirmish but Kogure (No. 18) remained undaunted as he continued to stalk the leader. The close-fought skirmishes continued this way right down to the final lap. Coming out of the last turn of that final lap, Kogure (No.18) made one last attempt to pass car No.1 but Wakisaka held him off to take the chequered flag. For the No.1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 team (Juichi Wakisaka/Andre Lotterer), it was their first win of the season.

By finishing second, the No. 18 Weider HSV-010 team (Takashi Kogure/Loic Duval) was able to defend their lead in the season's ranking and win the Driver title. Also, the Team title went to the Weider Honda Racing team. Finishing third in the race was the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Toshihiro Kaneishi/Koudai Tsukakoshi), which has started the race on the third grid position. This team's strategy had been to save time in the pit by changing only the two rear tyres in order to catch the two lead machines, but the gap was too great.

In the GT300 race, the pole-starting No. 3 TOMICA Z (Kazuki Hoshino/Masataka Yanagida) took its first victory of the season without giving up the lead throughout the race. With this win Hoshino and Yanagida claimed the 2010 GT300 Driver title for themselves. The Hasemi Motor Sports team also won the Team title. During the formation lap before the start of the race, the No. 9 HATSUNEMIKU X GSR PORSCHE (Taku Bamba) spun out and had to give up its second position on the class starting grid. The start itself saw no big upsets in the order, but on the third corner, the No. 74 COROLLA Axio apr GT (Takuto Iguchi) ran off the track and fell far back in the pack. Next, the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta) began to fall off the pace and lose ground steadily. Also, the No. 86 JLOC Lamborghini RG-3 (Yuhi Sekiguchi) which had started the race from second position on the grid was slowed by a heavy load of fuel and ended up holding back the machines behind it.

This took the pressure off Hoshino in the pole-starting car No. 3 and enabled him to build up a more than 10-second lead by the 10th lap of the race. The close dogfight for second place between the cars behind fell to an even slower pace as the GT500 leaders caught and passed them. The resulting string of GT300 cars caught behind second place allowed No. 3 (Hoshino) to run away in the lead. On the 29th lap, Hoshino brought his car No. 3 in for the routine pit stop. Before the start, the team had been considering a no-tyre-change strategy, but with a margin of lead this big, they were able to change all four tyres and send their second-stint driver, Masataka Yanagida, back onto the track in about 30 seconds. At this point, many teams had not yet made their pit stops, but when all had finished their pit stops by lap 35, No. 3 was in the lead again with a considerable margin. By the time the GT500 class had finished the race on their 53rd lap, the GT300 class was finishing on its 49th lap. For the No. 3 TOMICA Z team (Kazuki Hoshino/Masataka Yanagida) this was their first win of the season.

In second place was the No. 2 Apple·K-one·Shiden (Hiroki Katoh/Hiroshi Hamaguchi). Katoh had started the race from eighth position on the grid and had steadily made progress up through the order as other rival dropped back. During their pit stop, they elected to forego the tyre change in order to save time and give second-stint driver Hamaguchi a margin of safety over his pursuers. This gave the No. 2 team its third podium finish of the season, following a second place in round two at Okayama and a win at Sugo in round five. Finishing third came the No. 86 JLOC Lamborghini RG-3 (Koji Yamanishi/Yuhi Sekiguchi). Because of its poor fuel efficiency, the Lamborghini had been carrying a heavy load of fuel from the start which hindered Sekiguchi's pace in the early going. Nonetheless, he managed to hold on to second position. In the second half of the race, Yamanishi won a fierce battle with the No.11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430 (Tetsuya Tanaka/Katsuyuki Hiranaka) to give the team their first podium finish of the season.