MOTUL AUTECH GT-R takes its first win of the season!
Motoyama ties record again for most career GT wins
The FUJI GT 400km RACE, Round 3 of the 2009 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km x 88 laps) in Shizuoka Pref. on May 4. The GT500 class winner was the pole-starting MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer, bringing the team its first victory of the 2009 season.
The race started exactly at 14:00. Despite being the second longest race on the SUPER GT schedule at 400 km, the middle stages brought close-fought battles, including the pole-starting MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Motoyama) giving up the lead at one point to the PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Andre Lotterer). Still, Motoyama and later teammate Treluyer stayed right on the tail of the SC430, waiting for the chance to retake the lead. The chance came during the second routine pit stops, where the PETRONAS TOM'S team lost time in the pit works and thus allowed the tables to be turned with some fast pit work by the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R team mechanics.
With Motoyama back at the wheel of the GT-R after the second pit stop, he maintained the lead until a tense moment on the last lap when the PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 driven by Lotterer was closing in on his tail. But Motoyama managed to hold off Lotterer's charge and take the checkered first.
It was an exciting day for all of the 50,000 visitors enjoying the national "Golden Week" holidays at the Fuji Speedway near the Tokyo metropolitan area, and most of them were surely gratified to see the winners podium shared by a Nissan GT-R team, a Lexus SC430 team and a Honda NSX team.
In the previous round at Suzuka, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R team had led the race most of the way and appeared to have a sure victory in hand when trouble struck with just seven laps remaining and victory slipped through their fingers. But, true to form as defending champions, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R team wasted no time in recovering from that defeat with a well- orchestrated race campaign here at Fuji.
This victory gave Motoyama his 11th GT career win and put him back in the tie for most career wins that Yuji Tachikawa (ZENT CERUMO SC430) had just broken with his victory in the last round at Suzuka. For the GT-R, this was its second win of the 2009 series following the season opener.
In the GT300 class, the ARTA Garaiya driven by Morio Niita and Shinichi Takagi claimed a pole-to-finish victory without effectively giving up the lead at any time in the entire race.
No.1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R [GT500]
Satoshi Motoyama: "I am extremely happy and relieved to get this win. Having lost the last round make the season outlook grim for us, but getting a solid result here like this is a big relief for us and the team staff. This has put us back in the title race and I am determined to do my best to defend our title. In the early stages of the race things were tough because we had taken on an extra supply of gasoline and the machine was heavy as a result. But that helped save time in our pit stop. So, when Benoit got near the leader, I felt that we could win. On my last stint, I felt that we were a bit faster than car No. 36, but I got could behind some GT500 class back- lappers that were involved in a battle for position and that let Andre (Lotterer) catch up with me. Still, I guest that gave the fans a chance to see a good match race between Nismo and Tom's (laughs)."
Benoit Treluyer: "I'm really happy! This time I got some good points, not penalty points for a change (laughs). We ran a good race. The mechanics did a great job too, and the machine performed well. I was able to push hard and do my best the whole race. At Fuji you always have to deal with a lot of back-lappers and it is hard to pass them. Also, in my case I had to be careful not to get any more penalty points, and that made it a very tough race. As defending champions I am also glad that this win has put us back in the competition for the season title."
No.43 ARTA Garaiya [GT300]
Morio Niita: "I really wanted to win this race. Since last year there have been a number of disappointments (at Fuji). And this year we missed a win at Okayama in the opening round because of a mistake by me. But I didn't let my desire to win run away with me this time. As a result, the whole team came through this race perfectly with no mistakes. This time the performance of the Michelin tires was also really good, and it makes me glad that the team was able to turn that performance into a well-deserved win. I'm told that this victory gives me a new record for most career wins in GT300 class but I'm not really concerned about things like that. I owe this victory to the team, the sponsors and the fans that let me drive in such a good car, and I want to show my gratitude by getting more wins from now on. I'm not talking about retiring this year (laughs)."
Shinichi Takagi: "It was a perfect race. From this year, the schedule allows for less practice time, but Niita san chose the tires and the settings well, and so I was able to win the pole position in the qualifying. In today's race I made almost no mistakes, and this is also something that I owe to the team staff. At the start of the race I got passed, and since the Daishin (car No. 81) was on tires that last a long time and was running with a strategy of saving time by eliminating a tire change, I couldn't let up the whole race. But making the most of the Michelin soft tires' good performance in the third sector of the course, I was able to pass the Daishin and help us get the victory."