Super GT 2010 - Fuji Sprint Cup 1

BY Burnpavement

Lyons (ZENT CERUMO SC430) scores runaway victory from pole while the GT300 class sees a come-from-behind win by Hiranaka (JIMGAINER F430).

Photos: Super GT

The SUPER GT Race 1 of the JAF Grand Prix SUPER GT & Formula NIPPON FUJI SPRINT CUP 2010 was held on November 13 at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Pref. The GT500 class winner was Richard Lyons in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430. The GT300 class win went to Katsuyuki Hiranaka in the No. 11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430.

The formation lap for the GT500 class Race 1 started a little later than scheduled at 15:05. As the clouds overhead thickened gradually, the air temperature and track surface temperature were both dropping slowly as the race began with Richard Lyons in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 making a fast start from pole position and moving out to hold the lead with apparent ease. By the end of the opening lap, the No. 35 MJ KRAFT SC430 (Hiroaki Ishiura) was in second position and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) in third. Running at some distance from the top three in fourth position, the No. 6 ENEOS SC430 (Bjorn Wirdheim) had a collision with the No. 1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Andre Lotterer) dropping both cars far back in the pack. This gave fourth position to Andre Couto in the No. 39 DENSO DUNLOP SARD SC430 who had moved up quickly from 11th position on the starting grid.

Following in fifth position was Benoit Treluyer in the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, who had moved up from 12th position at the start. But, Koudai Tsukakoshi in the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 was on an even faster pace that took him past the No. 24 HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda) on lap two, and on lap three he managed to get past Treluyer in car No. 23 after a tough battle. Tsukakoshi (No.17) continued his blistering charge after that to pass car No.12 (Quintarelli) on lap eight and No. 35 (Ishiura) on the next lap. This placed him in second position.

While the battles raged behind him, Lyons (No. 38) continued to run unchallenged in the lead, building up a lead of almost 10 seconds by mid-race. His pace held into the final stages of the race with no danger of being caught. In this way, he scored a perfect pole-to-win, at the end of a frustrating season in which his team had been unable to put together the kind of performances they wanted. Finishing second was Tsukakoshi (No. 17). After battling hard to move into second place, he continued to run laps at a steady pace. In third came Quintarelli (No.12), thus splitting the top three among the three big makes.

The GT300 class Race 1 began at 14:00. There was no confusion at the start, despite it being a standing start instead of the usual SUPER GT rolling start. The first car into corner one was the pole-starting No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Shinichi Takagi). Following in second was the No. 74 COROLLA Axio apr GT (Yuji Kunimoto), but the third-place grid starter, the No. 11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430 (Katsuyuki Hiranaka), lost ground badly at the start. Among the leaders, the Hiroki Yoshimoto in the No. 66 triple a Vantage GT2 got an especially good start, jumping up from fifth position on the grid to be the third one into the first corner. From there, Takagi (No. 43) had trouble holding pace and was soon passed by No.74 (Kunimoto) and No. 66 (Yoshimoto). On lap 11, Yoshimoto (No. 66) accelerated past No. 74 (Kunimoto) to finally move into the lead.

Behind these two leaders, the slower pace of No. 43 (Takagi) was holding back the pack until the No. 9 911GT3R Porsche Japan (Hideto Yasuoka) was able to break loose and give chase to the two leaders along with Hiranaka (No. 11), who had now recovered from his bad start. Hiranaka (No. 11) was running at an especially fast pace and was able to catch and pass No. 74 (Kunimoto) on lap 18. This made the top three No. 66 (Yoshimoto), No. 11 (Hiranaka) and No. 74 (Kunimoto). Behind them, the car of the hard-charging rookie Yasuoka (No. 9) began to spew white smoke coming out of the last turn and came to a stop track side on the straight.

Meanwhile, the battle between the top three was heating up. On lap 20, No. 11 (Hiranaka) and No. 66 (Yoshimoto) bumped each other while running side-by-side. It was Hiranaka (No. 11) who emerged in the lead after this skirmish, and he was able to run on that way to the finish and take the win. Thus, the race was won by the No. 11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430 (Katsuyuki Hiranaka). Although Yoshimoto (No. 66) took the chequered in second place, he received a 30-second penalty for a driving violation against No. 11 (Hiranaka) that dropped him back to 13th place. As a result, second place went to the No. 74 COROLLA Axio apr GT (Yuji Kunimoto). Finishing in third position was the No. 33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Tomonobu Fujii). Although No. 33 (Fujii) had only managed to qualify 15th, the choice of tyres for the race proved to be a good one and enabled Fujii to make progress steadily through the pack.