The #8 ARTA Honda duo of Tomoki Nojiri and Takashi Kobayashi won the Fuji 300 km Super GT race from pole position, bringing an end to Lexus’ winning streak that started in last year’s season finale at Motegi.
The ARTA Honda never looked threatened by another car during the race, except for the last two laps when its advantage dramatically shrunk to under two seconds, to score its first victory since 2013.
While the battle for the lead was settled early on, the #23 NISMO and the #38 Cerumo Lexus fought for the second position until the very end of the race.
The Lexus had climbed its way from sixth on the grid in the hands of three-time Super GT champion Koudai Tachikawa in the first stint, with Hiroaki Ishiura carrying on his countryman’s good work after the pitstops.
But Ishiura was unable to clear Tsugio Matsuda, whose Nissan enjoyed a greater straight line advantage following an updated engine introduced in Sugo.
As a result, Matsuda - who shares the #23 GT-R with Ronnie Quintarelli - managed to fend off the Lexus despite running neck-to-neck for nearly 20 laps.
The two TOM’S Lexus cars had their own intra-team rivalry in the closing stages, which allowed the #12 Impul Nissan of Hironobu Yasuda and GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough to nick fifth place.
While the #37 car of Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy slipped to sixth in this spat, the sister #36 machine (Daisuke Ito and James Rossiter) managed to hold on to the fourth spot.
Double win for ARTA
ARTA doubled up in the GT300 category, with Shinichi Takagi and Sean Walkinshaw taking a straightforward victory in the #55 BMW M6 GT3.
With his 18th triumph, Takagi now shares the record of most GT300 wins in the history of Super GT.
Meanwhile, the #4 Team Ukyo Mercedes crew of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka rose to the top of the standings with a second place finish, having made a late move over the #31 Toyota Prius of Rintaro Kubo and Koki Saga, which eventually finished third.
GT500 race results:
|1|| Tomoki Nojiri
|2|| Tsugio Matsuda
|3|| Yuji Tachikawa
|4|| Kazuki Nakajima
|5|| Hironobu Yasuda
|6|| Ryo Hirakawa
|7|| Yuhi Sekiguchi
|8|| Naoki Yamamoto
|9|| Kazuya Oshima
|10|| Heikki Kovalainen
|11|| Satoshi Motoyama
|12|| Bertrand Baguette
|13|| Daiki Sasaki
JP de Oliveira
| Hideki Mutoh
| Koudai Tsukakoshi