First Victory for exciting pair of drivers and the SC430!
The 6th round of the 2009 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the 38th INTERNATIONAL Pokka GT SUMMER SPECIAL, was held on Aug. 23 at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807km x 121 laps) in Mie Prefecture. The winner of the GT500 class was the KRAFT SC430 driven by Hiroaki Ishiura and Kazuya Oshima.
Hiroaki Ishiura and Kazuya Oshima had driven the KRAFT SC430 to win the pole position on Saturday. Ishiura is in his second season in the GT500 class, while Oshima is a rookie this season.
The race was shortened this yea from its previous 1,000 km to 700 km. From his pole-position start, Ishiura soon pulled away and opened up a gap over the competition. After Oshima took the wheel he continued to race on in the lead unchallenged. By the 65th lap at mid-race, he had a 10-second lead over the 2nd-place Honda NSX.
In the latter stages of the race a trailing car caught fire and the safety car came out to slow the race, causing the KRAFT SC430 to lose most of its lead margin, but with a well timed pit stop and an effective race strategy they managed to maintain the lead and run on to a pole-to-checkered victory.
Ishiura and Oshima also paired as drivers in the GT300 class in 2007 and won the driver's title that year. Now they are paired again in the GT500 class and this is their first victory in this class. This represents the second win for the LEXUS TEAM KRAFT, following a win in round 3 of the 2006 season. This is the second win this season for the Lexus 430 after winning the 2nd round, also here at Suzuka.
In the GT300 class the victory went to the S Road MOLA Z (Kazuki Hoshino/Masataka Yanagida) after fighting back from a 14th place qualifying position with a skillfully run race while others suffered mishaps and passing the leader just before the last lap to score a dramatic win. This team also won last year's round 6 at Suzuka, giving them two-in-a row at the Suzuka summer festival of racing.
+ Winner Comments
No. 35 KRAFT SC430 [GT500]
Hiroaki Ishiura: "The first stint had to be run on the tire we ran the qualifying with, so my big concern was how to make the tires last. After building up a 3 or 4-second margin of lead, I started going easier on the tires. Even so, it got difficult near the end and car No. 3 was closing in. After I got through that, however, things got easier. It was a bit nerve- wracking when the Safety Car came out and we lost our margin, but the team made a good decision from the pit and we were able to build up a margin of lead again. That was a major factor in our victory today. After that I nervously watched Oshima drive with my heart racing (laughs). Last year I was given a big opportunity [to drive in the GT500 as one of the Toyota ace drivers] and it turned out to be a season with a lot of pressure for me, but with this victory I feel relieved at last."
Kazuya Oshima: "The machine has been in good condition all weekend, we won the pole position and everything was fine up to that point. In the race I concentrated on not making any mistakes and keeping my concentration to the end. I am so relieved now that I was able to make to the end with no mistakes. We lost our 10-second margin when the safety car came out, but I told myself that couldn't be helped and returned to the race determined to go all out. I was feeling good too, and I knew that the tires would hold out to the finish, so I was confident that even if they the competition caught up with me I could still outrun them. But in the latter stages of the race my cool suit stopped functioning and I soon drank all of my drink supply, so by the end I was running purely on will power (grimaces)."
No.46 S Road MOLA Z [GT300]
Kazuki Hoshino: "We didn't decide whether to divide the race into three stints (with pit stops) or four stints, so we decided to make that decision after watching Yanagida's first stint. Seeing how well he drove and gained ground for us, we decided to go for a 3-stint race, and that turned out to be the right decision. The race development also went in our favor and we got 3rd position after the Safety Car came out. Last year taught me that if you don't give up until its over good things are bound to come your way [he won the title in the last lap of the last race], so I kept my hopes up all the time I was watching Yanagida drive. I don't even remember the moment when he passed the leader. The mechanics were all embracing each other in joy even though the race wasn't over yet (laughs). I am really grateful to everyone."
Masataka Yanagida: "This is really unbelievable for me. We started in 14th place and won at the very end of the race. I really feel wonderful to be able be here now in this place as the winner. At the end, when I saw a GT500 car pass the No. 2 car on the 130R curve, I decided to make my move there. The three cars competing for the lead were all running at about the same pace, so it wasn't really possible to pass it alone. When being passed by a GT500 car, the GT300 car suffers a time loss, so I decided to use that chance and pulled up alongside it on the 130R curve and then passed it in the chicane.
Thinking about the series title, the two of us (drivers) decided that this race at Suzuka was our last chance to keep the possibility of a title alive. The fact that we were able to win here in the last lap is a great result that will surely carry over into the last three rounds of the season. I am going to keep my hopes up for the remaining races and not give up until its over."