Runaway GT500 class win for Lyons in the ZENT CERUMO SC430
GT300 class victory to the JIM GAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430
The first races of the JAF Grand Prix event, where the stars of Japan's two pinnacle car race series, the SUPER GT and Formula NIPPON, compete on the same days and the same track, was held as the top domestic formula class, were run on Nov. 13 at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref. This event marks the revival of the competition of Grand Prix after a hiatus of 20 years, and the fact that these two big races can be seen at once has added to the excitement on the motor sport scene.
The races of the SUPER GT series are normally run with the two drivers of each team driving one stint each in the same race, but in this competition the two drivers each drive a full race separately on one of the two days of November 13th and 14th. After the second day of racing, the final winning teams are decided on the basis of the cumulative points for the two drivers.
Race 1 of the GT500 class (22 laps / 100.386km) started at 15:15. From the pole position he won in Friday's qualifying, Richard Lyons in ZENT CERUMO SC430 executed a perfect start, despite the standing start format he is not used to in SUPER GT series races. He jumped out into the lead followed by Hiroaki Ishiura in the MJ KRAFT SC430. This being Toyota's home course, the race was expected to develop into a showdown between these two Toyota SC430 machines, but that is not what was in store. While Lyons continued to run away in the lead, Ishiura was chased down and passed by the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R of Ronnie Quintarelli and the KEIHIN HSV-010 driven by Koudai Tsukakoshi.
Eventually, Lyons was able to maintain a 5- to 9-second margin over the rest of the field all the way to the checkered for a perfect pole-to-win victory. The winner of the tight battle for 2nd was young Koudai Tsukakoshi in the HSV-010, while Quintarelli in the Nissan GT-R finished 3rd.
The GT300 class Race 1 (22laps / 100.386km) saw the pole-starting ARTA Garaiya of Shinichi Takagi gradually fall back in the pack as a battle for the lead developed between Yuji Kunimoto in the COROLLA Axio apr GT and Hiroki Yoshimoto in the triple a Vantage GT2.
In the latter stages of the race, however, the leaders were joined by 2nd- place qualifier Katsuyuki Hiranaka in the JIM GAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430, battling through the pack with determination after losing ground at the start. In the end, the race came down to a side-by-side dogfight between Yoshimoto in the Aston Martin and Hiranaka in the Ferrari, with Hiranaka emerging victorious.
No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 [GT500]
Richard Lyons: "This may have looked like an easy win for me today, but for me in the driver's seat it wasn't easy at all. It is by no means an easy task to start from pole position and take it all the way to a win. To make it even more difficult, today's was a standing start, which I've never done [in SUPER GT]. In the early going I concentrated on building up a gap between me and the competition. I was also concerned about the tires, so I ran carefully to manage the wear on them. It was really a tough race for me, but everything went well in the eventually."
No. 11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430 [GT300]
Katsuyuki Hiranaka: "I am glad to be able to win this way carrying no [handicap] weights. During the season it was tough not being able to make it up on the winners' podium, but this win shows that all the work we did during the season was not wasted. Just after the start, I had fallen back to about 13th position. The tires were slow in warming up and I was swallowed up by the pack behind me. It took three or four laps for the tires to warm up. After that I was able to run well. I had expected that there might be some dumping with the Aston Martin (No. 66). We were running side-by-side and my front tire was hit, which could have caused me to spin out, but after that my pace didn't drop, so I was able to stay calm and race on. Once I got past the Aston (No. 66), I was confident that I could pass the Corolla (No. 74). It was a good race for me."