MOTUL AUTECH GT-R Wins Second Race This Season
First Victory for Nissan GT-R at Sugo
On July 26, the "SUGO GT 300KM RACE," Round 5 of the 2009 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at Sportsland Sugo (one lap: 3.704 km, 81 laps) in Miyagi Prefecture and the GT500 class winner was the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer. It was the second win this season. The final race started under the hot midsummer sun. Right after the start, the HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R took the lead from its pole position, but that lead was taken over by the ENEOS SC430, which had taken second position in qualifying, when it got stuck behind a back marker. Later when the rain began to fall, all the teams returned to the pits to change to rain tires and positions changed hands drastically. However, when all the teams had finished changing to rain tires, the ENEOS SC430 took back the lead.
But then, the rain began to let up some two-thirds of the way into the race and the pace of the ENEOS SC430, which had been fitted with heavy rain tires, began to fall. The MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, shod with tires for lighter rain, closed in quickly and took the lead 15 laps from the end.
Although the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R team had put up the 4th best time in qualifying, it was penalized in the morning practice, and was pushed back to starting in 6th position on the grid for the final race. It took back that 4th position in the early stages of race, and then moved up to 2nd thanks to timing its pit stop well. This was the first time for Nissan to win the GT500 class at Sugo. Last year's champion team ended a 15-year jinx.
In the GT300 class, the HANKOOK PORSCHE team of Mitsuhiro Kinoshita/Masami Kageyama claimed the victory. This is the second race for the team since Round 2 at Suzuka, and with the win they posted that time, this makes two wins in two appearances this season.
+Comments from winners
No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R [GT500]
Satoshi Motoyama: "I think it was just a coincidence (Nissan) hadn't won at Sugo, but when they said they hadn't won, it made me feel I had to give it all I had. Just for that alone, it makes me really happy that Nissan (GT500 class) got its first victory. We assumed that it would begin to rain during the race, and worked out what to do with the team beforehand. I radioed information about the course condition and rain, the team took into account other drivers' times and had me come into the pits. This victory and the top-place ranking is testament to the strength of the team and the machine, and further that motivates us. We want to run good races and have our sights set on the championship."
Benoit Treluyer: "I got the machine from Motoyama in good condition, and the team strategy and tire choice was also good. There were a few laps with heavy rain after I had taken over that were difficult, but I never let the No.6 car (leader) get away from me. After the rain let up, even though our machine was faster, I decided to bide my time, not push it and wait for a chance to overtake the No.6 car which I did. I want to give my thanks to the team for putting together a good machine and making good tire choices."
No.33 HANKOOK PORSHE [GT300]
Hiromitsu Kinoshita: "The rain didn't seem to be all that heavy to me, so I chose intermediate (shallow tread) tires, as did many others in the GT500. There would be a chance that wet (deep tread) tires in the latter stages of the race, when the track surface was getting dry, would not hold up. I knew that when the surface was dry, our tire compound would give us an advantage. Just that when I left the pits, it felt like I was driving on ice. In the final stages of the race, I got very apt advice from Kageyama over the radio, the lag between the cars behind me, and he told me, 'Go for it!' which gave me back my composure. It was really a help to me. I'll be taking part in Round 7 at Fuji and in the final round at Motegi."
Masami Kageyama: "I am so overcome with emotion that I could cry. Budget restrictions meant we could only take part in four races this season. This was the second. The team put together a good machine for us, and HANKOOK (winning Round 2) made great tires for us different from those at Suzuka. On top of that, I want to give my thanks to Kinoshita who raced under some very trying conditions. The last win was thanks to me (laughs), but this time belongs to Kinoshita and the HANKOOK tires that were so good in the rain. And my thanks to heaven, which was on our side this time."