From the back of the pack to a miracle win!
Victory goes to Match's HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R
The SUZUKA GT 300km, Opening Round of the 2010 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was run at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807 km) in Mie Pref. on March 21. Charging up through the pack from 10th position on the starting grid in the rough early going that saw several cars crash or run off the course, the HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R team of manager "Match" Kondo with drivers Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira and Hironobu Yasuda came through with an impressive come-from- behind victory.
Just before the start of the race a drizzle of rain began to fall, making the track very slippery. That resulted in a series of spin-outs and crashes from the first lap. The pole-sitting Weider HSV-010 was among the cars that ran off the track, dropping it to 12th position. What's more, there was a big crash between two of the Honda HSV-010 GT cars on lap 11 to add to the upsets.
Through all the confusion, Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R moved up steadily from tenth position on the starting grid to eventually take the lead on lap 25. After that, the Kondo team took the very bold strategy of foregoing any tire changes at their routine pit stop to save time and open up an even bigger lead over the pack. With that advantage, second stint driver Yasuda held a steady pace to the end for the win. This was the first win for the KONDO RACING team since the opening round of last season, and its fourth overall in SUPER GT competition.
From the Honda camp with its new HSV-010 GT car debuting in this race, the RAYBRIG HSV-010 GT got a podium finish with 3rd place.
The GT300 class victory went to the pole-sitting M7 MUTIARA MOTORS AMEMIYA SGC7 driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi and Ryo Orime. Despite losing ground after running off the track in the early going, the team fought back courageously to take the class win, aided as well by a no-tire-change strategy.
+ Winner Comments
No.24 HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R [GT500]
Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira: "Yesterday [in the qualifying] I made an unforgivable mistake [crash] and ruined the machine. So, I was really determined to do well today. I am very happy with this result. I want to dedicate this win to the team mechanics that worked all night getting the machine back in shape. After their work the machine was in perfect condition, and the [no-tire-change] race strategy worked perfectly too. We were able to win thanks to these efforts by everyone on the team. In the next race the car will be a bit heavier with the handicap weights [from this win], but it will be at Okayama where we won last year, so I look forward to that race."
Hironobu Yasuda: "We finished 10th in every [practice] session yesterday, so I still can't believe that we won. But, at the same time I am very happy we did. What makes me happiest of all is the fact that we were able to pay back the team crew for staying up all night to repair the car. The idea to go with a no-tire-change race strategy was Manager Kondo's suggestion after the morning practice. And it was finally decided to go with that plan just before we made our pit stop. There was some pressure after I took the wheel for the second half of the race, but I pushed the machine while watching its condition during the first half of my stint and that was able to run to the checkered at a controlled pace while watching the competition."
No.7 M7 MUTIARA MOTORS AMEMIYA SGC7 [GT300]
Nobuteru Taniguchi: "The question was how I was going to defend our position in front after starting from the pole position, but I wasn't able to do it at all (laughs). So, I'm both happy and relieved that we were eventually able to win. Just after the start, there were some sections of the track that were dry and others that were wet, and I didn't know which were which until I actually ran them. I was caught by surprise and said, "Oh no!" when I ran off the track (grimace). Our strategy was to not change tires, so I expected us to get a lead after the pit stop, but after the track surface conditions improved the machine performed very well and I was able to make it to the pit stop in the lead. That was a big relief for me."
Ryo Orime: "Suzuka is a special circuit for me. This is where I went to racing school and this is the course I have competed on most often in SUPER GT. To be able to get a pole-to-checkered victory here has been a real confidence-builder for me. When Taniguchi-san ran off the track, I was worried because I didn't know what the conditions were. But after that I was relieved to see the machine running at a good pace. I was able to use my experience from running several times last year on a no-tire-change race strategy, and I think I did a nearly perfect job of pushing as much as necessary while watching the margin with the machines behind me."