Fuji podium sweep for Lexus team at home track!
Perfect win for young Ishiura, Oshima pair in long-distance race
The FUJI GT 400km RACE, Round 3 of the 2010 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km x 88 laps) in Shizuoka Pref. on May 2. The GT500 class winner was the pole-starting MJ KRAFTR SC430 driven by Hiroaki Ishiura and Kazuya Oshima, who effectively never lost the lead throughout the race.
The race started under fair skies at exactly 14:00. This race is the second longest of the SUPER GT series at 400km and its regulation requires two driver changes during the course of the race.
For the pole-sitting MJ KRAFT SC430, Kazuya Oshima was the starting driver. He managed to hold off the second-starting PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 and the rest of the pack to maintain the lead in the early going. Teammate Hiroaki Ishiura drove through the middle stages of the race with equal success and was able to give the wheel to Oshima again with the lead in tact. Oshima ran on steadily lap after lap without once being threatened and took the checkered first to bring the team its first victory of the season.
Finishing 2nd was last years' champions, the PETRONAS TOM'S SC430, and completing a Lexus sweep of the top three places and the podium came the ENEOS SC430. It was a perfect race result for the Toyota camp in front of an excited crowd of 53,100 spectators at their home track, Fuji Speedway.
This was the third victory for the LEXUS TEAM KRAFT in the GT500 class. For Ishiura and Oshima it was their second win, following their triumph in round six last season at Suzuka.
The winners of the GT300 class race were the 3rd place qualifying COROLLA Axio apr GT team with drivers Takuto Iguchi and Yuji Kunimoto. Here too, it was a victory for the Toyota camp. This was the first win ever for the Corolla. It was also a felicitous first podium finish for the young pair of 22-year-old Iguchi and 19-year-old Kunimoto in their second year of GT competition.
Having just turned 23 two days earlier, Oshima is another fresh face to reach the top rung on the GT podium.
No.35 MJ KRAFT SC430 [GT500]
Hiroaki Ishiura: "Everything fell into place perfectly for us this week. We weren't able to put together good races at the season opener or in round two. But, before coming here to Fuji, we knew that we have consistently performed well here and we really wanted this win. That put some pressure on us too, so I am really relieved now that we were able to win in that situation. After this, we want to continue winning as many points as we can until round six (when the handicap weight calculations change) so that we will be in contention for the title in the final rounds of the season."
Kazuya Oshima: "As a team, we came here [to Fuji] to win. And in fact, the condition of the machine was good all week and we drivers were performing well too. We were the fastest in the qualifying and again in this morning's practice. So, if we had failed to win today's race, it would have looked bad. For that reason as well, I was determined to get results out their. From the start I was able to control the pace, I was able to race relaxed, and the machine was performing well. Everything was perfect. For the remainder of the season I want to help make sure that we don't lose any races where we have an advantage. Our machine performs very well here at Fuji and at Suzuka, so I want to see us go for the wins there."
No.74 COROLLA Axio apr GT [GT300]
Takuto Iguchi: "I'm very relieved. Last year we didn't even have a podium finish, so I am very happy that this first podium finish came as a win. This time (according to the team strategy) I didn't have much driving time. Kunimoto did very well for us in the qualifying yesterday and I think that is the biggest contributor to our win today. Now we are entering the [hot] season when the Michelin tires perform especially well, so I want to see us push hard, despite the handicap weights we will now be carrying, and win again at the next round at Sepang."
Yuji Kunimoto: "I would say that I am more relieved than happy to finally get this first win under our belts. Last year we ran the whole season without a podium finish. That was frustrating for me. When we got out on the track yesterday, we already had our settings down and the machine was performing well, and our Michelin tires also fit this warm weather well. As a driver I also felt I was in good condition. In the final battle today [with Takagi in car No. 43] my heart was really racing (laughs). I felt that I could run my own race nobody could pass me, so I just concentrated all the way to the finish."