Manager Masahiro Hasemi's GT-R Victorious
The SUPER GT INTERNATIONAL SERIES IN MALAYSIA race, Round 4 of the 2009 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Sepang International Circuit (lap = 5.542 km x 54 laps) in Malaysia on June 21 and the GT500 class winner was the HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R driven by Ronnie Quintarelli and Hironobu Yasuda for their first victory of the season.
To avoid the midday heat of tropical Malaysia, the race was scheduled to start at 16:00 (local time). The second-place qualifying HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R started from the front of the grid due to machine trouble with the pole position winning MOTUL AUTECH GT-R that caused it to start from the pit lane.
The HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R's starting driver, Quintarelli, kept that lead to lap 30 before turning the wheel over to teammate Yasuda at the routine pit stop. Once Yasuda took over, he was never threatened for the lead, due in part to a furious battle for 2nd position raging behind him. Eventually, he ran on to victory with a big lead over the field.
This marked the first victory for the Hasemi Motor Sports team in the GT500 class since Round 7 of last season. The team's Manager, Masahiro Hasemi, is known as a famed driver of years past. For the Nissan GT-R this is already the third win of the season. For driver Quintarelli, this is his second career win in SUPER GT. And, for his teammate, Masuda, who won the GT300 class driver's title last year, this is his first GT500 win.
In the GT300 class, the I.M JIHAN CO. LTD APPLE Shiden driven by Hiroki Katoh and Hiroki Yoshimoto staged an furious charge from the very back of the pack to win a stunning victory.
(Spectators: Saturday - 8,900 Sunday - 30,586)
No. 24 HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: "I am really happy. I thought we might have a chance of winning here at Sepang even before we came. The team has done a fantastic job with the machine preparation and Michelin prepared some great tires for us. Also, we two drivers did training to prepare for the heat. So, I feel this victory was truly a product of everyone's efforts. I can't help congratulating myself and the team (laughs). Car No. 1 had trouble before the start that took it out of the lead, so I was able to run at my own pace and concentrate on tire management too. With the exception of the times when I got stuck behind GT300 machines, I had no problems. There was also a time when the tires were losing grip, but after the 20th lap or so it got better and stayed good until the pit stop. The tires performed better than I expected. So I was able to turn the machine over to Yasuda with a good margin of lead, and the team's pit works was also fast too."
Hironobu Yasuda: "I am also very happy. I really caused the team a lot of trouble with my big crash at Suzuka that nearly totaled the machine. So, I was hoping that I could returned that debt with a victory. Now that has happened, and that makes me happiest of all. The NSX teams came into this race with a strategy of getting an advantage by only changing two tires, and there was one dangerous moment when I came out of the pit and doubled up with an NSX machine. But I was able to keep position, and I worked hard to pull away after that. Once I got away, Manager Hasemi told me [over the radio] that I didn't need to push too hard. He said I could relax and stay cool. After that I just ran with an eye on the margin between the machines behind me."
No. 2 I.M JIHAN CO.LTD?APPLE?Shiden [GT300]
Hiroki Katoh: "Yesterday's events were frustrating [being disqualified after winning the class pole] but I told myself that the race wasn't over because of it, and that it only meant that the chance of winning had been narrowed to some degree. That made my desire to win even stronger. The race also went well strategically, and the team staff did a great job for us. The car and the tires were both very good. I am really happy with this result."
Hiroki Yoshimoto: "Since I came to the team from Round 2, we have had to start at the very back of the grip or 3rd from the back, so I was worried that people would say I brought bad luck to the team. But like Katoh-san told me to do, I turned that frustration into competitive spirit on the track and was able to come to the race with a positive attitude. Katoh-san started and we had some good luck with the accidents up in front of him, but we also had the skills to get around them and keep working hard as a team to get past the frustration and not give up. And the result was that everyone put together a perfect race. On my stint the tires were also performing perfectly from beginning to end. But at the end, it was by no means just a matter of maintaining a margin. I don't think I could have pushed any harder if I was told to."