Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global
Super GT Autopolis

Honda’s Otsu admits he was “too soft” in Autopolis lead battle

ARTA Honda driver Hiroki Otsu has conceded he was “too soft” in his defence of the lead against Toyota man Ritomo Miyata in Sunday’s Autopolis SUPER GT round.

#16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT

Otsu and Miyata embarked on a thrilling duel for honours in the penultimate round of the season, with Miyata ultimately coming out on top in the #36 TOM’S Toyota GR Supra he shares with Sho Tsuboi to take the lead of the championship.

The #16 ARTA Honda NSX-GT of Otsu and Nirei Fukuzumi, who took pole on Saturday, finished second but will head to next month’s Motegi finale facing a daunting deficit of 16 points with only 21 on offer.

Read Also:

Fukuzumi was in control of the race for the opening two stints of the race before coming in on lap 59 of 97 to hand over to Otsu, who at one stage was leading by five seconds.

But that gap was quickly overturned by a charging Miyata, who made the decisive pass with 10 laps to go after several laps of fierce battling.

Reflecting on his stint, Otsu told Motorsport.com: “We were in two minds about the tyre choice when I took over from Nirei. He started on soft tyres, but switched to hards for the second stint, and finally we chose softs for the final stint.

“Of course the advantage is that the warm-up is good, so I was able to soon recover the positions I lost [on cold tyres] and build a gap, so I thought I could keep going like that. 

“But in the middle of the stint I started to get pick up and the tyres wore out, the pace dropped and I was caught by the #36 car.

“I was determined to defend the lead, but I couldn’t… I think I was a bit too soft in my defence, which is something to work on. I’m frustrated I couldn’t hang on.”

Hiroki Otsu, #16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT

Hiroki Otsu, #16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Asked if Miyata’s raid at the inside of the Turn 11 hairpin took him by surprise, Otsu replied: “I thought he was coming from a risky distance. We were struggling with braking with our car. In that sense, I was taken somewhat by surprise.

“I should have stuck more firmly to the inside line… I think I showed him a weak spot for him to exploit. That’s something I have to reflect on.”

Otsu added that, with he and Fukuzumi now needing a miracle to claim the championship, he will simply aim to score a second victory of the season in the Motegi finale.

“The championship is looking tough, but we have a really strong package, and we’ve always been at the top in the last few races,” he said.

“We have made some mistakes, but everyone in the team has done a great job, so for the final race I want to aim for the win as a culmination of all the work we’ve done this season. And if we win the championship as well, it’s a bonus.”

Miyata: Win “payback” for being blocked in Q1

For his part, Miyata said he had been given extra motivation to get ahead of Otsu after the #16 ARTA car had blocked team-mate Tsuboi on his hot lap in the first part of qualifying on Saturday.

That left the #36 TOM’S squad starting from a lowly 12th on the grid, but Miyata had worked his way back up to fifth place by the time of his final pitstop having taken over from Tsuboi at the first round of stops on lap 34.

He then made short work of the Real Racing Honda of Koudai Tsukakoshi and the Cerumo Toyota of Hiroaki Ishiura before making a critical pass on Mitsunori Takaboshi in the NDDP Racing Nissan, which had been leading the standings heading to Autopolis.

“Tsuboi was blocked by the #16 car [in Q1] in a way that I’m certain would have resulted in a penalty if it happened in Super Formula, so I thought, ‘I’m definitely getting payback for that!’” said Miyata.

#36 au TOM'S GR Supra

#36 au TOM'S GR Supra

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

“Overtaking at Autopolis is tough, so realistically we thought we were aiming for around fourth place, but personally I was always thinking about winning. 

“Secretly, I was thinking ‘we have to win’ and ‘I have to get payback’, and I knew Tsuboi was frustrated as well, so I was determined to finish in front [of Otsu]. In that sense, I’m really happy to have done that.”

Motorsport.tv is showing all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Autopolis SUPER GT: TOM'S Toyota takes thrilling win from 12th
Next article SUPER GT eyes reduction in corner speeds after Sugo crash

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global