Victory for the new Honda HSV - 010GT in its second race!
Weider HSV-010 erases last round's nightmare with perfect win
The OKAYAMA GT 300km RACE, Round 2 of the 2010 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Okayama International Circuit (one lap 3.703 km x 82 laps) in Okayama Pref. on April 4. Fierce battles unfolded on the track under fair spring skies, and when the racing was over, the pole-starting Weider HSV- 010 driven by Takashi Kogure and Loic Duval held onto the lead throughout the race to take the win. This gave the new Honda HSV - 010GT its first win in only the second race of its debut season.
Starting from the front row of the grid, Loic Duval got a fine start in the Weider HSV-010 and pulled out into the lead. Through the early stages of the race, the second-position starter ZENT CERUMO SC430 held on stubbornly to the pace about four seconds behind. Eventually, however, Duval began to pull away and open up the margin over the ZENT CERUMO SC430. Duval finally brought the Weider HSV-010 back to the pit for its routine pit stop at the end of lap 47. The team performed the pit work with no mishaps and during the second half of the race Takashi Kogure took charge and used his well-known sprint ability to widen the gap with 2nd further to over 10 seconds.
While keeping one eye on the increasingly intense battle for 2nd going on behind him, Kogure ran steadily lap after lap to the goal and the win. With the exception of the time in their pit stop, the team never lost its lead during the race to score a perfect pole-to-checkered victory. This win made up for the frustration of the opening round, where the same Weider team had won the pole position only to be forced out of the competition by an accident.
The name of Honda's new HSV-010 GT machine contains a reference to the "speed" that was the key concept in its development. It has certainly proven that speed already, by winning the pole position in its debut race at the season opener and then winning the race convincingly here in round 2.
The winner of the GT300 class was the Up Start MOLA Z driven by Naoki Yokomizo and Tsubasa Abe, starting from second position on the grid. The pole-starting JLOC Lamborghini RG-3 dropped out of contention when its pit work took longer than the other teams. Then, the RX7 that had taken over the lead developed machine trouble and crashed out of the race. Through these developments, the two drivers of the Up Start MOLA Z maintained a strong and steady pace to race on to victory.
No.18 Weider HSV-010 [GT500]
Takashi Kogure: "[In the last round] at Suzuka, two of the Honda machines crashed into each other, which darkened the mood in the Honda camp. But today, I'm sure everyone is please with this result. That makes me happy. We always tend to lose time in the pit work, but Loic made up for that by giving us the margin of lead we needed. So I was able to drive the second stint with assurance. I am glad that we two drivers were able to do our jobs and win this race."
Loic Duval: "I feel great. There was a lot of pressure and that made for a tough race, but it is good that we were able to win it and prove what a strong team we are. We had a different strategy from car No. 38 and we chose different tires. The going was tough for about the first ten laps, but after that I was able to run steadily and with assurance. I was nervous, though, when I had to watch the whole second half from the pit (laughs)."
No.46 Up Start MOLA Z [GT300]
Naoki Yokomizo: "I still can't believe that I am here [being interviewed at the post-race press conference]. Since we were carrying 30 kilos of handicap weights, I thought it would be a very tough race for us. But, the tires that Yokohama Rubber prepared and the machine that the team prepared for us turned out to be a very good package. Abe has been my junior since we were back racing karts, so I was nervous watching him after he took the lead. But, he has made rapid progress this year and I can now feel more confident of his abilities. It wasn't decided that we would be able to compete this year until just two weeks before the opening round, because our main sponsor wasn't committed yet. And there are a lot of uncertainties about the second half of this season, too. So, I believe that this win will have some value for the team management."
Tsubasa Abe: "I'm very relieved. I saw the No. 7 machine crash right in front of me and (after I took the lead as a result) I didn't know what could happen in the remainder of the race. So I made myself concentrate and take it carefully. Also, there were a lot of fallen objects on the course today that I had to be careful about. There were also some tight battles going on between the GT500 machines that kept me paying attention throughout the race."