CALSONIC GT-R (Matsuda/Phillipe) take first win of the season!
The Kazuyoshi Hoshino family dominant in both classes
The 37th International Pokka 1000Km Race, Round 6 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807 km ~173 laps) in Mie Prefecture and the GT500 class winner was the CALSONIC GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Sebastien Philippe.
In contrast to the intense summer heat of year's past, this year's 1000 km was under cloudy skies with rather cool temperatures. But that didn't prevent a series of upsets from the start with several machines being plagued with trouble.
The CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R had only managed a 5th in the Saturday qualifying and had suffered from machine trouble in the early stages of the race as well, but the team's ace driver, Tsugio Matsuda, battled back valiantly. By the half-way point at 500 km his team was in second position. After a quick final pit stop on the 138th lap, they finally passed the leading NSX to take over at the front. Teammate Sebastien Philippe widened the gap on the chasing NSX and ran the final laps of the 1000 km unchallenged to the checkered in the darkening dusk.
For the IMPUL team led by the former driving great, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, this was their second win at the Pokka 1000Km race, following a victory in 2006. For the Nissan GT-R this is the second victory here at Suzuka this year, following the win at the opening round. For Matsuda it was his first victory at the Pokka 1000Km and for Philippe it was his third.
In the GT300 class the victory went to the MOLA LEOPALACE Z driven by Kazuki Hoshino and Hironobu Yasuda. Hoshino is the eldest son of the manager of the winning GT500 team, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, making this a two- class family victory.
+ Winner Comments
No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R [GT500]
Tsugio Matsuda: "Both myself and the team thought that we had a good chance to win this race. In the early running we had to make a pit stop because of a loosening wheel nut, but since we were running on a 4-pit-stop strategy I kept driving for 62 laps. That was tough (laughs). But it was important that I was able to do that. Also, when I was battling with No. 100 we had plenty of fuel and were able to make our pit stop one lap later than theirs. That is a big part of the reason why we won. This is a victory won by the drivers, the team and everyone together. I hope that now we will be able to compete for the title in the last race of the season."
Sebastien Philippe: "I am really happy with today's race. When we were having problems in the early going, I never thought that we would be able to win, but Tsugio ran a perfect race. By the time I started my last leg I was confident that we could win. I have been on the winning team three times here at the Pokka 1000Km, but since it has become a SUPER GT there are a lot of strong rivals and it is much harder to win now than it was before. What's why I'm especially happy with today's win."
No.46 MOLA LEOPALACE Z [GT300]
Kazuki Hoshin: "Before the race there was the strategic possibility of intentionally not going for a top place this time because the handicap weights we would have to carry for the next race, but as long as we are going to compete I thought we should try to win. During the race I told the team over the radio that I had a strategy to win. The team responded and we were able to win. On every lap I could see the Nissan flags that the fans were waving and that encouraged me a lot."
Hironobu Yasuda: "Thank you, everyone. Last year we got a podium finish here driving the No. 23 car but I wasn't able to drive in the final. I am very glad that this year I was able to be one of the drivers on the winning team. I think that this win has given us good momentum toward the season title. So, I am going to do my best to help bring us the title win."