Fuji: Series race report

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XANAVI NISMO GT-R Wins Season Title The Final Race Is Won by CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R The FUJI GT 300km RACE, 9th and final round of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held on Nov. 9 at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref....

XANAVI NISMO GT-R Wins Season Title

The Final Race Is Won by CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R

The FUJI GT 300km RACE, 9th and final round of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held on Nov. 9 at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref. The winners in the GT500 class were the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R team of Tsugio Matsuda and Sebastien Philippe. The winners in the GT300 class were the YUNKER-POWER TAISAN PORSCHE team.

The season title for drivers in the GT500 class was won by Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer (XANAVI NISMO GT-R). This gave the Nissan GT-R the title in its GT debut year. The driver title for the GT300 went to Kazuki Hoshino and Hironobu Yasuda (MOLA LEOPALACE Z).

Rain began to fall just before the start of the race, and while many of the teams switched to rain tires, manager Kazuyoshi Hoshino of the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R team chose to stay with the dry tires they had chosen before the rain. In fact, the rain let up soon after the start and the track began to dry. This sent most of the leaders back to the pit to change to dry- condition tires. This left the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R alone to take the lead and run away unchallenged to its second victory of the season, following its win in round six.

This victory was also the seventh of the season for the new GT-R. It also gave Nissan the record for the most wins ever by a single make of car in a single GT season.

The drivers' season title went to the XANAVI NISMO GT-R pair of Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer, who finished 9th in this race. The team title went to PETRONAS TOYOTA TEAM TOM'S, the 7th-place finishers in this race.

In the GT300 class, the YUNKER-POWER TAISAN PORSCHE got clear of the pack in the early running and ran on alone to its first victory of the season.

The drivers' title in this class was won by the pair of Kazuki Hoshino and Hironobu Yasuda (MOLA LEOPALACE Z), who finished 77th in this race. The team title was won by the same MOLA LEOPALACE Z team. (Spectators: 47,100)

Due to an appeal by one of the entrants, the official result of the GT300 race are tentative, pending a final ruling by the race judges.

Winner Comments

No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R [GT500]

Tsugio Matsuda: "I saw this race as a chance to get our second win of the season. During the qualifying our set-up with the wet tires didn't go well and we were unable to make it to the Super Lap. On our run before lining up on the rid for the start of the race, we experienced a lot of wheel spinning and it looked like it would be tough racing on slick tires. But the sky was getting brighter and trusting Manager Hoshino's thorough knowledge of this track and the assurance of everyone on the team that we would be OK on slick tires, I put my doubts aside and chose the slicks. For the first four laps it was quite a struggle to keep the machine on the track, but the pace of the machines in front of me kept dropping. By the time I caught up with No. 39, I thought we had a good chance of winning. After that I just tried to avoid making any mistakes. When it came time to change drivers the weather was getting worse, so they told me to stretch it out as long as possible before making the pit stop. After the change, Philippe did a fantastic job. It felt great to get our second win of the season in the final round. And with the title going to No. 23, it has been a great season all around."

Sebastien Philippe: "The conditions were tough out there, especially just after I got out on the track at the start of my stint. It was a good thing that we had a considerable margin over 2nd place at that point. After my tires warmed up I was able to race steadily. I am really glad with today's race result. I want to do even better next season."

No.26 YUNKER-POWER TAISAN PORSCHE [GT300]

Nobuteru Taniguchi: "Since we weren't in contention for the title and had nothing to lose, the only thing we had to do today was to go for the win, so I chose to run on slick tires. During the formation lap the track was nearly dry, so I had the feeling that my bet would pay off. I do well when the track is a bit wet and there is some slipping. Both me and Orido (No.19) started out as drift drivers. No. 19 had chosen softer tires, so I thought that if I could stay cool and stick with it, I would be able to pass it in time. After that, Dominik did a great job for us, so things went perfect. The finish was a fantastic moment. In fact, our representative, Mr. Chiba had told me, 'This is our last race as the TAISAN team, so please go out and win it for us.' I'm glad that we were able to give him this victory as a present."

Dominik Farnbacher: "I am glad to have been able to return to race with my Japanese family after a year's absence and then be able to win this race. I am grateful to the team for calling me back and I want to thank my great teammates, too. It was a pretty easy race. The tires were good and the choice was good. I am very happy that we have won."

GT500 Driver Title winner comments

No.23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R [GT500]

Satoshi Motoyama: "Now that it's over, it was just the kind of race we wanted to run. But it was a lot tougher than it looked. Benoit drove hard and well in the qualifying and the first half of the race, and the weather played out in our favor. So, I thought it would be easy when we got into 3rd position. When I took over, there were still a lot of laps left to run and the temperature was low, so they told me to take plenty of time to warm up the tires. But then it started raining and I had to return to the pit again. The conditions had changed dramatically. ?Now that we have won the championship, I feel that I have fulfilled my responsibility. When the going was tough out there in the race, I could feel the fans cheering me on. With No. 12 winning the race and us winning the title, I believe it has been a great day for Nissan and Nismo."

Benoit Treluyer: "It was a tough race, not just for us but for everyone. But our machine had the potential and was easy to drive. That's why I was able to push it in the qualifying and then get 3rd. Since we were carrying a lot of handicap weights, we had to make an early pit stop, and then it was unlucky when it started to rain. But now that it's over, we can look back on it as an enjoyable race. ?I have won the title in Formula racing, but this is my first in the GT, so I'm very pleased. Because we were able to race this year with the best possible package, there was a lot of pressure. When the burden of that got my motivation down, I was really grateful for the support of the fans. I want to thank everyone."

GT500 Team Title winning Manager comment

No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 [GT500]

Manager Masanori Sekiya: "We wanted to win the driver title too, but we'll let that be a present to Motoyama and Treluyer (laughs). There is some disappointment remaining about the races, but I believe everyone performed well. Over the course of the season I can say that things went consistently well. I want to see us run races where everything goes well. Especially, seeing the way our mechanics did the pit work without flaw made me feel that this is indeed a great team. I believe this is way contributed to bringing us the title. Our two drivers, Juichi and Andre, did their jobs well. They always got us in good positions and lived up to everyone's expectations with their racing. In that way they made the season an enjoyable one for us."

GT300 Driver Title winner comments

No.46 MOLA LEOPALACE Z

Kazuki Hoshino: "Since we didn't know what the result would be until the very end, it was hard to get a real sense that we had won the title. But now I am just very happy. On the tire choice we went with the slick tires because that is what the car in front of us (No.43) was doing. But then we got caught up in an accident. From then I pushed as hard and fast as I could, telling myself that the track was dry now and I could drive like normal with the pedal to the floor. Then I was able to catch up, but only to be caught up once again in an accident. I was on the verge of giving up hope, but then the team came over the radio saying, 'Don't ever give up!' So then I concentrated and pushed on again. It was not giving up till the end that got us this result. Yasuda always improves our position in his stint, so I just watched the rest of the race with faith in him. I didn't really get the feeling that we had won the championship until I was standing up there on the winners' podium."

Hironobu Yasuda: "When I saw the accident and collision just after the start, I thought that all hope was gone, but Kazuki san pushed so hard, and when he got in front of the Gariya (No.43), I thought that he could do it. But then there was the second crash and I thought that things were really hopeless then. When the rain started falling, however, I thought that the flow might change to our advantage. The pit work went perfectly and I was able to get out on the track very quickly. After that I just forgot everything and pushed as hard as I could. I didn't know what place we were in when I finished and I had no idea whether we had won the title or not. I want to thank Kazuki san for bringing the car back to me in good position, as battered as it was. I am really happy."

GT300 Driver Title winning Manager comment

No.46 MOLA LEOPALACE Z [GT300]

Manager Misato Haga: "Twice in today's race I thought we had lost it all, but each time I was determined that we must come back and get even one point more, even one position higher. We had trouble in the season opener, but besides that we scored points in every race. When we won round six, that was an unexpected thing too. After that we had to carry handicap weights and there was a slump due to that, but our two drivers always kept the team's motivation high. I'm a bit at loss as to what to say and what I'm feeling right now. I've been involved in the racing this way for four years now, but I've never experienced anything like this [title win] and I'm feeling pretty nervous (laughs)."

-credit: super gt

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