ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Tachikawa/Lyons) Wins for First Time this Season
The FUJI GT 500KM RACE, Round 3 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km x 110 laps) in Shizuoka Pref. on May 4, and victory was won by the ZENT CERUMO SC430 driven by Yuji Tachikawa and Richard Lyons for the first time this season.
Tachikawa and the ZENT CERUMO SC430 have had many successes at Fuji Speedway, but yesterday they had to settle for 2nd place in the qualifying as the pole position was taken by the TAKATA DOME NSX. But, as the competitors lined up for the 14:00 start, the ZENT CERUMO SC430 team was determined to make up for that.
In the early stages of the race the TAKATA DOME NSX driven by Takashi Kogure held the lead, but Tachikawa stayed behind him in 2nd position. When Kogure spun out on a turn in lap 22, Tachikawa had no trouble moving the ZENT CERUMO SC430 into the lead. After that, Tachikawa turned over the machine to Richard Lyons, then Tachikawa took the wheel again. They never relinquished the lead except for their pit stops on the way to the win in the long 500 km race.
For the SC430, this was the first win since round six last season in August. For Tachikawa, this win extends his record for most GT wins to 10. For Lyons, this was his first win since moving to a Toyota team. Having also scored wins with Honda and Nissan teams, Lyons became only the second driver in GT history to win GT500 races driving for all three of the major domestic makers.
The GT300 class saw a pole-to-finish victory by the Lightning McQueen apr MR-S driven by Kohei Hirate and Keisuke Kunimoto. Born on January 9, 1989, Kunimoto is just 19 years old. This win gave him the record for the youngest driver ever to win a GT race, three months under to previous record of 19 years and seven months old. (Spectators: 56,900)
No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 [GT500]
Yuji Tachikawa: "We had tough races in the opening round and round two so far this season, but this time our machine was very competitive (compared to the rival machines). The pole position is not as important for winning here at Fuji as it is at the other races, but it was still frustrating to lose the pole position yesterday by 0.1 sec. So, I was determined to win today. I was worried about how the tires would hold out, but after we got the lead it was easier and things went well. Although we won today, it is clear that we can't relax when thinking in terms of the season title. The NSX was fast today, and the GT-R has been so fast (in the first two rounds), so who knows what is going to happen. But we are now competitive, so I am going to do my best to keep winning."
Richard Lyons: "This was a fantastic day for everyone at Toyota, for the fans and for me. With this win, I have now won races with all three of the top Japanese makers. I have been fortunate to have Toyota and the team mechanics prepare such a good car, and for the sponsors who have supported us for so many years. I am very happy to be with this team. I am going to do my best in each race from now on to try to win the series title."
No.95 Lightning McQueen apr MR-S [GT300]
Kohei Hirate: "I am very happy to have won here at Fuji today with the Toyota machine. It makes my so glad to have been able to win the pole position yesterday and then the race today. During the race I had complete faith that with these Michelin tires I could push as hard as I wanted. Although I was being chased and the gap was narrowing, I talked to the team and they told me not to worry or push too hard because we could recover the time (by taking fewer pit stops) even if I go passed. I would say that I did my job 100% today. And I was glad to be up there on the podium in front of so many GT fans."
Keisuke Kunimoto: "Considering that the results were not good for us in rounds one and two, I am very happy that we won today. Since Hirate san got us a lead, I was able to race relaxed and enjoy myself out there. I think that is why things went so well. The Michelin tires we are using are good in the summer heat, so I am going to do my best to help us win more points in the races to come."