Retirement for Tom Coronel and Koji Yamanishi in GT race at Mine

The fourth round of the Japanese GT championship was held in the south of Japan at the circuit of Mine (3,238 km). Unlike the previous race Tom Coronel was not the starting driver of the Mobil 1 Nakajima Honda NSX team. The honours were given to Tom's teammate Koji Yamanishi this time. Already in the third lap of the race the Japanese driver lost valuable ground when he tangled with fellow Honda driver Juichi Wakisaka. For three laps the NSX of the Dutch/Japanese duo was stuck in the gravel. After some help from the officials the car was brought back onto the track albeit three laps down. In the remaining 28 laps of his stint Yamanishi managed to bring the car back to 18th position overall in the race.

Dutch driver Coronel, who is sponsored this year by Marlboro, Bakkerij Bart, McGregor, Bridgestone, Mobil 1 and Honda was quite happy with his qualifying result. "These are long distance races and at the start you should be on one of the first three rows. Victory is decided in 300 race kilometers and an obligatory driver change. We were 16/100 s behind pole sitters Suzuki / Katayama in the Toyota Supra. Fortunately with our fourth place we were the best Honda and Bridgestone drivers. After the problems in the early part of the race I took over from Yamanishi in the 30th lap of the race. For long everything was OK with the car. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I made up some lost ground. But then the engine suddenly stopped. Later on it appeared that a broken shock absorber and suspension had cut a wirebeam. Bad luck, but as a driver there is nothing you can do about it, especially if you look at the final results. The winners of the race, Eric Comas and Satoshi Motoyama started four places behind us, so the podium was certainly possible for us today. For me it was just a typical case of 'force majeure'. I can only look forward to the next GT race which will be at Fuji. I definitely want to win that one, just like last year. The race will be held at the same date as the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort (Tom won the prestigious F3 event in 1997 - red.) so unfortunately I cannot join the action in the Dutch dunes. In the meantime we will do some testing with Formula Nippon and the Honda NSX, first here at Mine and later on at Fuji", Coronel said.

In order to win the next GT race at Fuji Tom will again climb the Mount Fuji. "It is a kind of superstition, but I think I'd better do it again, as last year I immediately won the following race after reaching the top", Coronel concluded.

Result round 4 Japanese GT series Mine: 1. E. Comas / S. Motoyama (Nissan Skyline); 2. T. Suzuki / U. Katayama (Toyota Supra) at 2.080s; 3. O. Nakako / R. Michigami (Honda NSX) at 16.262s; 4. M. Hasemi / T. Tanaka (Nissan Skyline) at 34.746s; 5. H. Noda / W. Gardner (Toyota Supra) at 44.442s; 6. H. Hoshino/ M. Kageyama (Nissan Skyline) at 1.10.276s.

Standings after four races: 1. E. Comas 49; 2. S. Motoyama 41; 3. T. Suzuki 37; 4. M. Sekiya / T. Kurosawa 33; 5. U. Katayama K. Hoshino and M. Kageyama 27. 14. T. Coronel / K. Yamanishi 10.