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Race report
Super GT Suzuka II

Suzuka SUPER GT: ARTA ends Honda NSX's winless streak

Honda scored its first SUPER GT victory of the season on the NSX-GT’s final visit to Suzuka, as ARTA duo Nirei Fukuzumi and Hiroki Otsu converted their pole position.

The #16 ARTA car of Fukuzumi and Otsu took advantage of a well-timed first pitstop under full-course yellow to cement their early lead, ultimately beating NISMO pair Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli to victory by just over 10 seconds.

Completing the podium was the SARD Toyota GR Supra of Yuichi Nakayama and Yuhi Sekiguchi, the team scoring its first top-three result in a year.

Otsu took the start from pole position and maintained a two-second lead over Quintarelli’s NISMO Nissan in the early laps until the first full-course yellow was thrown at the end of lap 11 of 77 when the Team LeMans Audi shed its left-rear wheel and stopped in the gravel at Turn 7.

ARTA reacted quickly and brought Otsu into the pits before the FCY was called, but Nissan squad Kondo Racing was less fortunate, with Kohei Hirate being handed a 60-second stop-and-go penalty for being judged to pit under FCY.

Quintarelli took over the lead and stayed out until lap 18, but such was the advantage of pitting under FCY that Otsu emerged with a 42-second advantage once the dust settled on the first round of stops.

During the second stint Quintarelli began to close the gap, and had the deficit down to 26 seconds before coming in for his second stop and hand over to Matsuda on lap 42.

Two laps later, Otsu pitted from the lead to make way for Fukuzumi, whose lead was down to 15 seconds by the time the second pitstop cycle was completed.

Matsuda continued to chip away at the lead in the closing stint, but Fukuzumi was able to stabilise the gap, going on to score his fourth GT500 win and a first for Otsu in what was the NSX-GT's final visit to Suzuka before it is replaced by the new Civic Type R-GT next year.

It was also the first Honda win at its home circuit since ARTA won at the track back in 2018.

 

An entertaining battle for third between two Toyota crews was resolved in favour of SARD, as Nakayama managed to keep Kenta Yamashita’s Rookie Racing GR Supra at bay.

Sekiguchi had started the SARD car down in 11th, but an early first stop on lap 15 allowed him to jump up the order. He passed the championship-leading #3 NDDP Nissan, which had stopped even earlier, for third before handing over to Nakayama on lap 43.

Rookie went for an unconventional strategy of driver changes at both pitstops, as Yamashita did both the first and final stints, but fell just short of overhauling Nakayama late on.

Real Racing Honda pair Koudai Tsukakoshi and Nobuharu Matsushita finished fifth ahead of the Impul Nissan of Kazuki Hiramine and Bertrand Baguette after Hiramine made a late pass on the Cerumo Toyota of Hiroaki Ishiura.

NDDP Nissan duo Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi ended up out of the points in 13th place, with the team’s decision to pit as early as lap six backfiring.

But the pair keep the lead of the championship as their nearest rivals, TOM’S Toyota drivers Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata, likewise failed to score in 11th place. Fukuzumi and Otsu meanwhile jump up to third place, 12 points off the lead.

ARTA’s #8 car shared by Tomoki Nojiri and Toshiki Oyu suffered a nightmare race that culminated in Oyu picking up front-right damage while batting the other TOM’S GR Supra of Giuliano Alesi at the hairpin.

Oyu triggered a third full-course yellow period by going into the gravel at 130R, and although he managed to coax his NSX-GT back to the pits - but he was awarded a 60-second stop-and-go for stopping under the very caution that he had triggered.

GT300: UpGarage completes double win for Honda

In GT300, Team UpGarage pair Takashi Kobayashi and Shun Koide scored their second victory of the season to complete a double for Honda and boost their title hopes.

#18 UPGARAGE NSX GT3

#18 UPGARAGE NSX GT3

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

A second full-course yellow, caused by the title-contending Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 dramatically shedding its right-rear wheel, allowed both the UpGarage Honda NSX GT3 and the #87 JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to pit under caution.

At the wheel for the closing stint, Koide had to work hard to keep the Lamborghini of Kosuke Matsuura at bay, eventually sealing the win by just 1.008s.

Behind Matsuura and Natsu Sakaguchi, the pole-winning Subaru of Hideki Yamauchi and Takuto Iguchi took the final step on the podium, having dominated the early stages. Iguchi was catching the lead pair in the final stint, but fell 2.7s short at the finish.

JLOC’s second car, the #88 Huracan running in Evo2 spec driven by Takashi Kogure and Yuya Motojima was fourth, while the Goodsmile Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Nobuteri Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka survived a scare at Degner, when Taniguchi was nudged wide by Tsukakoshi’s Honda GT500 car, to complete the top five.

UpGarage’s win puts it level on 40 points with the Team Studie BMW squad of Seiji Ara and SUPER GT returnee Bruno Spengler, which failed to score points in 16th.

Kondo duo Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Teppei Natori remain within two points of the championship lead despite their first non-score of the year.

GT500 race results:

1. #16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT
2. #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z
3. #39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra
4. #14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra
5. #17 Astemo NSX-GT
6. #1 MARELLI IMPUL Z
7. #38 ZENT CERUMO GR Supra
8. #100 STANLEY NSX-GT
9. #64 Modulo NSX-GT
10. #19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra
11. #36 au TOM'S GR Supra
12. #37 Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra
13. #3 Niterra MOTUL Z
14. #24 Realize Corporation ADVAN Z
15. #8 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT

GT300 race results:

1. #18 UPGARAGE NSX GT3
2. #87 Bamboo Airways Lamborghini GT3
3. #61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
4. #88 JLOC Lamborghini GT3
5. #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku AMG
6. #31 apr LC500h GT
7. #2 muta Racing GR86 GT
8. #96 K-tunes RC F GT3
9. #27 Yogibo NSX GT3
10. #50 ANEST IWATA Racing RC F GT3
11. #9 PACIFIC Vspo NAC AMG
12. #60 Syntium LMcorsa GR Supra GT
13. #10 PONOS GAINER GT-R
14. #360 RUNUP RIVAUX GT-R
15. #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R
16. #7 Studie BMW M4
17. #30 apr GR86 GT
18. #20 Shade Racing GR86 GT
19. #48 Shokumou K's Frontier GT-R
20. #22 R'Qs AMG GT3
21. #5 Mach Syaken Air Buster MC86
Non-finishers:
#56 Realize Nissan Mechanic Challenge GT-R
#52 Saitama Toyopet GB GR Supra GT
#65 LEON PYRAMID AMG
#6 DOBOT Audi R8 LMS

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