Fuji Super GT: Tachikawa, Ishiura lead all-Lexus podium
The #38 Zent Cerumo squad of Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura claimed the top spot in the second round of 2017 Super GT season at Fuji, securing Lexus’ first win on its home turf since 2013.
Three-time Super GT champion Tachikawa led away cleanly from pole position, but was was closely followed by the #23 Nissan GT-R of Ronnie Quintarelli, which started alongside on the front row.
However, Quintarelli’s early challenge for the lead ebbed quickly as the Italian dropped into the clutches of a spate of Lexus cars.
Within a few laps, he had dropped to fourth position, making it a Lexus 1-2-3 at the front of the field.
Tachikawa held the lead in the #38 LC500, with the #36 TOM'S car of James Rossiter and the #1 Denso of last year’s champion Heikki Kovalainen following behind in second and third places.
Some way behind the front runners, the Okayama-winning #37 KeePer TOM’S car was making headway from seventh place on the grid, with Nick Cassidy propelling the squad’s LC500 to fifth place.
On lap 27, Honda triggered the first round of pitstops, with Lexus cars following behind a few laps later.
A late stop for the #1 SARD machine allowed it to get ahead of the #36 car, but the two Lexus squads soon resumed their battle on track.
Daisuke Ito, who is subbing for Toyota WEC driver Kazuki Nakajima, made contact with Kohei Hirate as they tried to lap a GT300 car heading into the final corner, with the latter forced into a spin.
Ito’s TOM’S team was subsequently handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, while Hirate managed to continue with damage to the front of his car.
The loss of downforce on Hirate’s LC500, however, proved costly, as the former GP2 driver fell prey to the #37 KeePer TOM’S car on Lap 64.
Troubles for the au TOM’S and Denso Lexuses also helped the #6 LeMans duo of Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli, who suddenly found themselves in second place having dropped to fifth in the early stages of the race.
The Japanese-Italian duo, however, had no answer to the #38 Cerumo Lexus, which claimed an easy lights-to-flag win.
The #6 LeMans car crossed the finishing line just under five seconds behind, while the #37 KeePer TOM’S outfit made it an all-Lexus podium.
The #23 NISMO-run GT-R finished fourth after taking advantage of late pitstops, ahead of the #36 au TOM’S car, which recovered from its penalty to complete the top five.
The #100 Kunimitsu car of Naoki Yamamoto and Takuya Izawa finished as the top Honda in sixth after a spin for Kovalainen dropped the #1 SARD car to seventh.
Double win for Lexus
Lexus replicated its success in the GT300 category with the #51 RC F GT3 of Yuichi Nakayama and Sho Tsuboi, who took a surprise win from the #11 Gainer Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Bjorn Wirdheim.
D'station Racing made it three different manufacturers on the GT300 podium, with their Porsche 911 driven by Tomonobu Fujii and Sven Muller finishing third.
The pole-sitting #4 Mercedes of Team Ukyo comfortably led the first half of the race, but two rear punctures dropped it out of contention.
|1|| Yuji Tachikawa |
|2|| Kazuya Oshima |
|3|| Ryo Hirakawa |
|4|| Tsugio Matsuda |
|5|| Daisuke Ito |
|6|| Naoki Yamamoto |
|7|| Heikki Kovalainen |
|8|| Koudai Tsukakoshi |
|9|| Tomoki Nojiri |
|10|| Yuhi Sekiguchi |
|11|| Satoshi Motoyama |
|12|| Daiki Sasaki |
Joao Paulo de Oliveira
|13|| Bertrand Baguette |
|14|| Hironobu Yasuda |
|15|| Hideki Mutoh |
Fuji Super GT: Tachikawa takes pole as Lexus dominates
Autopolis Super GT: Yamamoto takes Honda's second pole of the season