YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R takes its first victory of the season!
On September 14, the MOTEGI GT300km Race, Round 7 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Twin Ring Motegi (one lap 4.801 km) in Tochigi Prefecture and the GT500 class winner was the YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R driven by Ronnie Quintarelli and Naoki Yokomizo.
Having won the pole position in the Saturday qualifying, the YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R continued to run in winning form in the race. Quintarelli drove at the start and through the first half of the race and then turned over the wheel to his teammate Naoki Yokomizo for the second half. With the exception of the time spent for their pit stop, neither driver was ever passed by another machine during the race, thus achieving a perfect pole-to- checkered victory.
For the HASEMI MOTOR SPORT team, this is their first GT victory since 1995, when the present manager, Masahiro Hasemi, as still active as the team's driver 13 years ago. For the new Nissan GT-R that debuted in the SUPER GT this year, this is the fifth victory in seven rounds.
In the GT300 class, the victory went to the WedsSport IS350 driven by Manabu Orido and Tsubasa Abe, who charged to the front from the very back of the starting grid and scored a miraculous win, their first win of the season. For the IS350, this is also its first victory in the SUPER GT.
+ Winner Comments
No. 3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: "I still can't believe this. The machine performed exceedingly well, which allowed me to open up a margin over second place early in the race. When we changed drivers to Naoki (Yokomizo), he did very well on the critical first lap out of the pit. But the last 15 laps were very long. I was able to watch with assurance for most of it, but on the last lap (when Yokomizo almost got entangled with some back-lappers) it really made me nervous (laughs). I felt my heart slip a beat or two. I want to say thanks to everyone on the team, to Hasemi san, to Nissan, and to all the fans who have cheered us on. The next round is at Autopolis, a course I like very much. The machine will be much heavier with the handicap weights from this win but I want to give it my best."
Naoki Yokomizo: "I feel like I'm in a dream. I had a very strong desire to win Manager Hasemi's trust. And I thought that this race was my best chance to do that, so I am very relieved that I was able to do a good job out there today. I believe the GT-R is a machine that performs well at both the next course, Autopolis, and Fuji Speedway, where the last round will be held. The condition of our machine itself is also still improving, and although it will be tough with the handicap weights we will be carrying, I hope to help us finish as high up among the winners as possible. Then I want to do my best to see that we are able to win again at the final round at Fuji."
No. 19 WedsSport IS350 [GT300]
Manabu Orido: This is the fourth race since we changed to the IS350 machine. This car is a good package and I expected us to be able to win with it, but we have had various troubles up until now. And again today (having had to start from the tail of the grid) I thought we'd have no chance of winning again. But, I [changed my mindset and] went out there with the intention of enjoying the race. With Masa (Masataka Bandoh) as our team manager this year, I really wanted to help us get some good results. Also, with the way Michelin has been dominating over Yokohama Rubber tires, I wanted to help get a win for them too. Today the tires fit the machine's performance very well. I was also very surprised by Tsubasa (Abe's) performance. In this way, I felt the power of everyone behind this win."
Tsubasa Abe: "To tell the truth, it all still hasn't sunk in. When I took over the car from Orido san, we had moved up into a single-digit position and I honestly felt personally that I could take it all the way to the win. But since I'm still a rookie in my first year here, I knew that hadn't won the trust of the people on the team yet. However, with this come-from- behind win, I think I have finally won some trust, and that was a good thing for me. In fact, I had been away from racing for two years and I still can't really believe that I am able to compete like this in the SUPER GT.I owe this to the sponsor and everyone around me who have been supporting me like this. I want to keep this feeling in the races that remain this season and in my competitive life from now on."