Second straight victory in Malaysia for GT-R team managed by Masahiko Kondo
The SUPER GT INTERNATIONAL SERIES IN MALAYSIA, Round 4 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Sepang International Circuit (lap = 5.542 km x 54 laps) in Malaysia on June 22 and the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT- R driven by the pair of Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira and Seiji Ara came through to win its first race of the season in the GT500 class. This was the second consecutive victory for this team at the Sepang round.
The race started a 16:00 (local time) in the late afternoon to avoid the mid-day tropical heat. Starting from 4th position on the grid, Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira did the first stint at the wheel of the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R and passed one machine on the first lap to move into 3rd position. He brought the machine into the pit on the 25th lap and turned over the wheel to teammate Seiji Ara. Ahead of Ara, the 1st and 2nd place qualifiers, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R and the ARTA NSX, were battling for the lead, but the two machines collided when the NSX was trying to pass the GT- R. The NSX was given a drive-trough penalty (one pass through the pit road) for this, which enabled Ara to move into 2nd position. Then on the 50th lap, when the leading MOTUL AUTECH GT-R lost acceleration momentarily exiting the second corner, Ara passed it and raced onto the checkered an victory at the at the end of the 54th lap.
For the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, this is the first victory since last year's round four at Sepang in June. Thus it is also the second consecutive victory for this team at the Sepang round. It is also the second Super GT win for the team managed by former Japanese celebrity Masahiko Kondo, popularly known as Match. For Nissan GT-R teams, this is the third victory of the season, following wins at the season opener and round two. It is also the third 1-2 victory for the GT-R.
The GT300 class victory went to the No. 77 CUSCO DUNLOP SUBARU IMPREZA driven by Tetsuya Yamano and Kota Sasaki. This was the first Super GT win for the IMPREZA since September of 1998 (Round 5, Motegi). (Spectators: 25,516)
No. 24 WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R [GT500]
Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira: "Fantastic! Nothing can beat this feeling. The team, the crew, the tires, everything was in great condition, so I was confident we could win. Last year, ours was a come-from-behind win. But this year the lead machines were also very fast and it was a difficult race where we had to push, push and push the whole race."
Seiji Ara: "As a team, we were aiming for a win here at Sepang. Our Yokohama tires were better in every aspect compared to last year, and that helped us go into the race more aggressively than ever. De Oliviera got us a good position in yesterday's qualifying and he turned the machine over to me today in a good position, which made things easier for us. Both the machine and the tires performed with good consistency and we expected to have a close competition with the other GT-R machines, but it looks like we had more to spare than machine No. 22. The performance was especially good in the low-speed turns, and when No. 22 made a mistake, I was able to pass it with no sweat."
No. 77 CUSCO DUNLOP SUBARU IMPREZA [GT300]
Tetsuya Yamano: "Kota [Sasaki] got the pole position for us, so I had a very easy start. The team had told me to go out and get us a 15-second margin and I was able to do that, so it was a perfect race for me. Two years ago, our team manager, Mr. Omizo, brought me to this team saying that he wanted me to help them win with the Impreza. Last year we tried but couldn't turn the effort into results. This year the machine has been very good, so we really wanted that first win, and everyone on the team was determined that this race at Sepang would be it. Everyone did there job to give us this win. I am really happy."
Kota Sasaki: "This is the first time in my life that I have gotten three wins at one event. It has been a fantastic weekend. I am really grateful to all the staff on the team. Yamano-san got us a good margin over 2nd place, but our pit work takes time, so things were very close. I knew the machine was fast, and that made things easier for me mentally, but there were some worries about the durability of the course of a full race, so I was paying full attention to everything. For me this was just another win, but when I think about how long and hard the team has worked for this win, I really feel the weight of it."