Fuji Dream Race: Karthikeyan wins wild second race
Honda driver Narain Karthikeyan triumphed in a chaotic second leg of the SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race at Fuji, as Audi and BMW both made it on to the podium.
Karthikeyan led the bulk of the race and survived two safety car restarts en route to his first victory in any category since the Brno round of Auto GP in 2013.
Holding second off the start, the Indian racer picked off poleman Loic Duval at the start of the second lap and controlled the race until making his pitstop on lap 16 of 31, hanging on to the advantage after debris from Duval's car - who had to make an unscheduled pitstop for a puncture - caused the first of three caution periods.
Another Audi puncture, this time for DTM champion Rene Rast, triggered the second safety car period, with Benoit Treluyer inheriting the lead having stopped under the first safety car.
But Karthikeyan retook the lead when Treluyer had to serve his mandatory pitstop and survived the final-lap shootout after a series of incidents further back in the pack that left debris on the track led to the reappearance of the safety car.
Amid the chaos, DTM pair Marco Wittmann and Duval emerged in second and third places, the pair fighting for the runner-up spot until the final corner.
Wittmann ran Duval out wide, but the Frenchman kept the throttle nailed and returned to the track ahead - only to be handed a one-second penalty, giving the place back to Wittmann.
Behind, Naoki Yamamoto made up three places on the final lap to take fourth in the Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT, having made a second stop under the second safety car.
Kamui Kobayashi made it three DTM runners and two BMWs in the top five, followed by Daisuke Nakajima in his last race outing for the Mugen squad.
Mike Rockenfeller was second-best of the Audi contingent in seventh ahead of Ryo Hirakawa in the TOM'S Lexus that won Saturday's first race in the hands of Nick Cassidy. Audi pair Rast and Treluyer made up the top 10.
Koudai Tsukakoshi was well positioned to make it on the podium for a second time in as many days, taking the second restart behind Karthikeyan, but spun his Real Racing Honda exiting Turn 3, with Tomoki Nojiri unable to avoid him in the ARTA NSX-GT.
Several corners later, mayhem ensued as Lexus pair Yuji Kunimoto and Kazuya Oshima made contact and spun, causing three more LC500s - those of Heikki Kovalainen, Kazuki Nakajima and Hiroaki Ishiura - and Kohei Hirate's Nissan to pile into the back of the melee.
Kunimoto was later handed a 40-second time penalty, although this cost him only one place, dropping him from 15th to 16th.
Nissan also suffered a race to forget, with only two GT-Rs making the finish, the best of those being the NISMO entry of Tsugio Matsuda in 11th place.
|1st||Narain Karthikeyan||Nakajima Honda NSX-GT||31 laps|
|2nd||Marco Wittmann||RBM BMW M4||+0.935|
|3rd||Loic Duval||Phoenix Audi RS 5||+0.825|
|4th||Naoki Yamamoto||Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT||+3.412|
|5th||Kamui Kobayashi||RBM BMW M4||+3.743|
|6th||Daisuke Nakajima||Mugen Honda NSX-GT||+4.356|
|7th||Mike Rockenfeller||Abt-Audi RS 5||+4.536|
|8th.||Ryo Hirakawa||TOM'S Lexus LC500||+4.681|
|9th||Rene Rast||Rosberg-Audi RS 5||+5.624|
|10th||Benoit Treluyer||WRT-Audi RS 5||+7.226|
|11th||Tsugio Matsuda||NISMO Nissan GT-R||+7.542|
|12th||Mitsunori Takaboshi||Kondo Nissan GT-R||+7.635|
|13th||Alex Zanardi||RBM BMW M4||+8.950|
|14th||Heikki Kovalainen||SARD Lexus LC500||+9.310|
|15th||Kazuya Oshima||LeMans Lexus LC500||+9.310|
|16th||Yuji Kunimoto||Bandoh Lexus LC500||+5 laps|
|17th||James Rossiter||Impul Nissan GT-R||+5 laps|
|18th||Kohei Hirate||B-Max Racing Nissan GT-R||+5 laps|
|19th||Kazuki Nakajima||TOM'S Lexus LC500||+5 laps|
|20th||Hiroaki Ishiura||Cerumo Lexus LC500||+5 laps|
|21st||Koudai Tsukakoshi||Real Honda NSX-GT||+6 laps|
|22nd||Tomoki Nojiri||ARTA Honda NSX-GT||+6 laps|
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