Races comes down to the final lap in both classes!
GT500 class race sees perfect win by Quintarelli in the S Road MOLA GT-R
HATSUNEMIKU GOODSMILE BMW takes GT300 class win
Race 1 of the JAF Grand Prix SUPER GT & Formula NIPPON FUJI SPRINT CUP 2011, bringing together Japan’s premier production car race, the SUPER GT, and Japan’s premier formula car race, Formula Nippon, took place on November 12 at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref. As the first JAF Grand Prix in 20 years, this event has been especially full of interest, with the two big race categories competing on the same days again this year.
Unlike the regular season SUPER GT series races competed by a relay of two drivers for each machine, this event is competed in two races on the 12th and 13th driven by one driver each. The final team standings for the event are determined by the point totals of each team’s two drivers in these two races.
Race 1 of the GT500 class (22laps / 100.386 km) started at 15:15. Starting from pole position, Ronnie Quintarelli in the S Road MOLA GT-R made a good to take the lead, despite this race using a standing start as opposed to the rolling starts of the regular SUPER GT series. He was followed in 2nd by Kazuya Oshima in the ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 until Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R passed Oshima and began to chase the S Road early on in the race.
At one point Quintarelli built up a 4-second lead, but as his tires wore down in the latter stages of the race, his pace dropped. This allowed De Oliveira to close the gap gradually. Over the last three laps less than a second separated the two lead machines, but Quintarelli managed to hold off the charging De Oliveira and take the checkered first. With this perfect pole-to-win race, the newly crowned 2011 SUPER GT champion proved his credentials. De Oliveira finished 2nd and 3rd place went to Juichi Wakisaka in the D’STATION KeePer SC430 after a fierce last-lap battle with another Lexus SC430.
Race 1 of the GT300 (22 laps /100.386 km) saw the pole sitting JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP 458 driven by Katsuyuki Hiranaka fall off the pace and lose the lead to the HATSUNEMIKU GOODSMILE BMW driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi.
In the latter stages of the race Taniguchi was caught by a hard-charging Tomonobu Fujii in the HANKOOK PORSCHE and the two staged a dead-heat dash over the last lap. Fujii managed to move into the lead coming off the last corner, but Taniguchi came back to nip him at the finish line by a mere 0.092 of a second and claim the win.
Winner Comments - Race 1
No. 46 S Road MOLA GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: For this race we had almost no data to base our tire choice on. So we measured the track temperature before the start and based our choice on comparison with data from previous races this season. Besides the data, my feeling for the tires and the machine had been very good in the warm-up and that gave me the feeling that I could probably win the race. After the start, the machine the tires and everything felt good and I was able to run at a very good pace in the early stages of the race. In the second half of the race car No. 12 was closing in on me at a very fast pace, and with the wear on my tires also being a factor, it was able to catch up to me. With three or four laps remaining the tire grip improved a bit and I was able to push harder again and go on to the win with assurance.”
No. 4 HATSUNEMIKU GOODSMILE BMW [GT300]
Nobuteru Taniguchi: “I pushed very hard in the early stages of the race, but being on softer tires I began to lose grip (due to wear) part way through the race and it was tough going. So I changed to a strategy of watching the gap between me and cat No. 33 and go easy on the tires so they would last to the finish. But, coming out of the last turn on the last lap of the race, Fujii pulled ahead of me. So I made full use of my BMW Z4’s famed speed on the straight. It may not be the coolest way to win, but I’m glad I won all the same. Also, since I think the standing start is one of the things that really makes racing exciting, I love this Fuji Sprint Cup. I hope they will continue to run it this way.”