Fujii grabs his first victory in GT300
Race 1 of the JAF Grand Prix SUPER GT & Formula NIPPON “FUJI SPRINT CUP 2012”, an event bringing together Japan’s premier production car race, the SUPER GT, and Japan’s premier formula car race, Formula Japan, took place on November 17 at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref. Race 2 will be run on the 18th.
Unlike the regular season SUPER GT series races competed by a relay of two drivers for each machine, this event is competed in two races on the 17th and 18th driven by one driver each. The final team standings for the event are determined by the point totals of each team’s two drivers in these two races, and the JAF Grand Prix title goes to the overall winners in each class.
I hope we will win again tomorrow and get the overall title.
Race 1 of the GT500 class (22 laps /100.386 km) started at 15:15. Pole sitting Kazuya Oshima in the ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 got a fairly good start but was passed by Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R on the first turn. However, De Oliveira was judged to have made a flying start in given a penalty that dropped him to the back of the pack. Meanwhile, Oshima was unable to pick up the pace and was passed in succession by Koudai Tsukakoshi in the KEIHIN HSV-010 and Ronnie Quintarelli in the S Road REITO MOLA GT-R.
This put Tsukakoshi in the lead but the increasing rain made him lose grip and eventually spin out due with his machine hydroplaning. Although he was able to restart quickly, the spin allowed Quintarelli to take the lead. Just after this it was determined that the rain and mist made it too difficult to continue the race and it was called on the 11th lap. With the competitor team’s finishing order determined by their position at the end of the 10th lap, the race win went to Quintarelli.
For Quintarelli this was his second victory in the FUJI SPRINT CUP, having won Race 1 of last year’s event as well. The win also bodes well for the S Road REITO MOLA GT-R team as it competes in tomorrow’s Race 2 with Masataka Yanagida at the wheel.
Winner Comments - Race 1
No.1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: “The rain started to fall heavily around the time of the start, so I concentrated on not making any mistakes as I drove. Of course, in these conditions I wasn’t able to drive my best, but I think I was able to keep up a fairly good pace. With several machines spinning out both in front and behind me, I just tried to stay calm and stick with the car in front of me. Then, when car No. 17 made a mistake and spun out, I was able to slip past it without trouble to take the lead. I was able to perform well for Ma (teammate Masataka Yanagida) who has been cheering me on and supporting me, and I this will help contribute to a good race for him tomorrow. I hope we will win again tomorrow and get the overall title.”
No.33 HANKOOK PORSCHE [GT300]
Tomonobu Fujii: “I am glad that we have been able to win this race in the rain after struggling in the rain at Autopolis and Motegi. After those two tough races in a row, I have to admit that I was uncertain at first today. But Hankook succeeded in improving the performance of our rain tires, and after running five laps I knew they had the performance for us to go all the way to the win. The prediction that the rain wouldn’t stop proved correct, so we didn’t change the settings of the machine and the tire choice was perfect. This is our third win of the season but it is the one that makes me happiest of all, because we won in the rain and we were able to overcome past worries (about performing well but never winning the). I think it will be dry for tomorrow’s race, and I hope [Masami] Kageyama will drive well and prove that we are fast in the rain and on a dry track as well.”