SUPER GT 2008 Round 7 Race Report

Victory marks fifth win for NISSAN GT-R this season

Round 7 of the 2008 SUPER GT took place on Sunday, September 14th at Twin Ring Motegi circuit (1 lap, 4.801km), located in Tochigi prefecture. Starting from pole position, the YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R (#3 Ronnie Quintarelli / Naoki Yokomizo) maintained a composed pace from beginning to end to take the race win. It was a lights-to-flag victory. The win makes this the fifth victory from seven SUPER GT races so far this season for the NISSAN GT-R.

On race day morning, light rain was falling in the eastern part of Tochigi prefecture, though this soon cleared up and by noon, the temperature had risen to 27 degrees. At the circuit, a total of over 39,000 race fans had gathered to watch the big event. At 14:00, the formation lap got underway. In the pole-starting #3 GT-R, Ronnie Quintarelli maintained a gap ahead of the 2nd-placed machine, never allowing his rival to get too close. He kept his position at the head of the field, until making his routine stop after 30 laps and handing the car over to teammate Naoki Yokomizo.

Yokomizo went out on track and maintained a three-second gap over second place, driving consistently and avoiding mistakes while taking care not to overuse his tyres. He ran without any change until the end of his stint, suppressing challenges from the #1 NSX to end the 63-lap event on top.

After seven consecutive years of NSX wins at Twin Ring Motegi, this victory by a GT-R has put a consummate stop to that record.

Recovering XANAVI NISMO GT-R sees bitterness of performance adjustment finally coming to an end. The efficiency adjustment that has tormented the car up to now has been negated, allowing the engine to reach the point where its original level of efficiency can be shown. The #23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama / Benoit Treluyer) qualified in 4th place, with ace driver Treluyer taking the start. Maintaining position, he made his stop after 27 laps, handing the car over to Motoyama.

Running the second half of the event, he chased his rivals hard, cutting into the gap to those ahead. At the start of the last lap he was in 8th position, and it looked as if that would be where he would finish. However, an evasive move on that final tour, while trying to avoid another car meant he went off track. He then made contact with the #25 SC430 when coming back from the gravel bed, resulting in front suspension damage. He finished in that state, taking 12th at the flag. Motoyama: “To have thrown away valuable points right at the end leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. I’d like to put this one behind us and concentrate on winning the next time out at Autopolis. By all means, we’ll be fighting hard there in our aim for the title.”

Qualifying 7th, the #22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm / Masataka Yanagida) had Krumm at the wheel at the start. On the opening lap, contact with two rivals saw him let off the accelerator after making contact, and thus dropping position. A resulting drive-through penalty then dropped the car further down the order. Yanagida took over for the second half, beginning his stint in 12th. Another car’s accident on the last lap saw him rise to 7th by the finish.

Winners in the previous round, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (#12 Tsugio Matsuda / Sebastien Philippe) finished 11th. The WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R (#24 Joao Paolo de Oliveira / Seiji Ara) ended the race in 14th overall.

#3 GT-R driver Naoki Yokomizo’s comment: “Because it’s been such a long time since the last win for HASEMI MOTORSPORT, this victory is truly wonderful. I knew that if we ran without making any mistakes, and followed the guidance of Hasemi-san, even when we were being slowed by traffic on the last lap, we’d be able to cope. This week, the balance of the car was at its best. This, combined with Ronnie made it the best. He’s a fantastic teammate who knows how to race, I’m incredibly happy. We’ll be running without any regrets and on full power for the remainder of the season.”

After seven rounds have been run, the #22 GT-R of Krumm/Yanagida sits 3rd in the points’ standings, the #23 GT-R of Motoyama/Treluyer is 4th. However, for the next round, at Autopolis, both machines will be saddled with less weight that the 2nd-ranked car. The championship battle in SUPER GT should become clear at the next round in Autopolis.