TAKATA DOME NSX (Michigami/Kogure) wins for first time this season
On July 27, the "SUGO GT 300KM RACE," Round 5 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at Sports land SUGO (one lap: 3.704 km) in Miyagi Prefecture and the GT500 class winner was the TAKATA DOME NSX driven by Ryo Michigami and Takashi Kogure.
Starting from the pole position that he won on Saturday, Kogure got a good start as the first-half driver of the TAKATA DOME NSX and opened up an early lead over the competition. But soon the ARTA NSX moved up from its 3rd position start to put the pressure on and turn the race into a fierce battle between these two Honda NSX machines.
The close battle between the two continued in the second half of the race after Ryo Michigami took the wheel of the TAKATA DOME NSX until late in the race when the ARTA NSX ran off the track. In the end, the TAKATA DOME NSX won the race after effectively maintaining its lead throughout.
This was the first win of the season for the Michigami/Kogure team and also for the Honda NSX. This victory also moved them into first place in the season point ranking with a good shot for the series title.
In the GT300 class the victory went to the ARTA Garaiya driven by Morio Niita and Shinichi Takagi. For this team it was their second win of the season following a victory at round two.
+ Winner Comments
No.18 TAKATA DOME NSX [GT500]
Ryo Michigami: "If you want to know how I am feeling right now, I'm very relieved. Izawa (in car No. 1) put a lot of pressure on me (laughs). He is fast and we were carrying a load of handicap weights, so it was hard to shake him. When he crashed we were boxed behind two GT300 machines at the last curve. He was pressuring me from behind and I was thinking about passing the GT300 machines on the outside. But there was a lot of tire shredings over there, so I held firm on the inside. Then I saw the orange car (No. 1) start to make its move on the outside and I wondered if he could do it. That's when he suddenly disappeared [off the track] and I saw in my rearview mirror that he had crashed. Then I realized it had been a futile attempt (wry laugh). This win means that we are going to have to carry even more handicap weights at Suzuka (Rd. 6), which will make things tough. But I will be trying to get us at least a few points toward the title."
Takashi Kogure: "I am really glad that we won. I'm relieved. I had a good start but No. 1 was soon chasing me and making it a tight battle. If it were only the two of us I could have held him off, but there he came after me when I was caught behind some GT300 cars on the last corner. The result was some dangerous braking on the first corner. Somehow I was able to hold him off and turn the machine over to Michigami san with our lead intact. I knew the conditions would be tough out there for him, but I had faith that he could keep the lead. But I got anxious when the No. 1 car started to try to get past him (laughs). But this win gives us a good shot at the championship title. From here on we will be thinking about the weight handicap and the season points with each race and try our best to win the title."
No. 43 ARTA Garaiya [GT300]
Morio Niita: "Things felt good during our tests but there were a number of situations where things just didn't fall into place. In the qualifying we weren't able to use the tires we wanted, for example. The strategy we went into today's race with seemed to be right on target, however. Though we got a lead in the early stages we knew that the tires would not last long, so the plan was to change drivers one-third of the way into the race. By starting with a full tank, we planned to shorten our pit time and get back on the track early. I trusted that if I was able to turn the wheel over to Shinichi in good position, he would be running on tires that were good for the conditions and we could get the win. The Garaiya car doesn't run as you would hope when it is carrying handicap weights, so we will have to think about unloading some of the weight as we win points steadily toward the title."
Shinichi Takagi: "I think things happened to go very well today (laughs). We were able to save time in the pit and push hard from the out-lap and then took the lead. After that, I was all alone in the front, so I don't really feel like I raced today (laughs). But it was still a tight race as the DAISHIN (No. 81) was moving up on me near the end."