Round 2 of SUPER GT was held on Sunday, April 19th (5.807km/lap) in Suzuka City, Mie prefecture. For the 52-lap event, the “IMPUL CALSONIC GT-R” (#12 – Tsugio Matsuda/Sebastien Philippe) qualified and started fifth, and after a tenacious drive, finished on the third step of the podium. Starting the race in pole position, the “MOTUL AUTECH GT-R” (#1 – Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) led until the final stages, but tyre trouble caused the car to fall back. The troublesome race saw them finish in 11th.
In temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius and welcoming sunshine, some 35,000 fans gathered at the newly renovated Suzuka Circuit featuring a completely revised paddock pit building. After a superb run in qualifying the previous day, Satoshi Motoyama took charge in the #1 GT-R at the start of the race.
From the opening lap a fierce battle ensued as the #38 LEXUS SC430 gave chase to the departing Motoyama, moving right onto the GT-R’s bumper from lap 3. While the #38 SC430 was looking to make a popular pass, Motoyama had other ideas as he successfully protected his position. Later, on lap 28
Motoyama came in to the pits to hand the car over to Benoit Treluyer. After speedy work in the pits, the #1 machine returned to the track, now with an even greater gap as they headed for the final stages. At one point, the gap back to second place was a massive 13 seconds, and it appeared as if the car would run independently to the end. However, on lap 47, just five from the finish, the car suddenly slowed. The #36 LEXUS SC430 took over the top spot, the similar #38 machine following it through after a slight error by the #1. As the #12 GT-R then also got by, the #1 machine was now fourth. An accident at the far side of the track then brought out the Safety Car, and the GT-R crossed the line in fourth place. However, the incident with the #38 car was investigated and a 27-second penalty imposed, resulting in the car dropping to 11th.
After making a remarkable rise from the back to finish 4th in the opening round at Okayama, the “IMPUL CALSONIC GT-R” was saddled with 16kgs’ success ballast as it qualified and started the race in fifth place. Taking the wheel in the first half, local Mie prefecturite Tsugio Matsuda proudly took charge, passing the #3 GT-R on the eleventh lap to advance to fourth.
On the 27th tour he came in to hand the car over to teammate Sebastien Philippe. On lap 32, the car was in third place. However with the car running a conservative set up in order to save fuel, it was unable to increase its pace, and on lap 43, had to relinquish the position to the #38 SC430. Later, because the #1 GT-R was pegged back, the IMPUL machine returned to third place, where it took the flag.
The HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R (#3 – Ronnie Quintarelli/Hironobu Yasuda) started third after being qualified by Quintarelli. The car held onto the spot in the early stages, but then dropped to fifth. Taking charge in the second half, Yasuda put in a steady run. However, just before the chicane on the 47th lap, he was pushed off track by another machine and forced into a crash and retirement.
Winners in Round 1, the “HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R” (#24 – Joao Paolo de Oliveira/Seiji Ara) was qualified and started in 12th by Oliveira, who immediately put on a riveting show as he passed cars ahead of him. After that however, the car’s pace didn’t improve, and ran a steady second half while avoiding trouble. They finally finished in eighth place.
- Satoshi Motoyama’s comment:
“The car was perfectly set-up yesterday. Because the race was run in
relatively high temperatures, it was hard on the tyres and so I had to
drive prudently. From the middle stages of the race, the cars behind me
weren’t getting the best out of their tyres so I was able to push and eke
out an advantage; it was an ideal development. I also think the pit work
was quick and easy. However it was a race where a lot of things happened.
Because the conditions were good, we’ll persevere and try to improve in
the next race. Still, it’s regrettable.”
- Tsugio Matsuda’s comment:
“Today the air temperature was high, so the tyres were working hard right
from the start, making it a situation where we really had to keep on top of
things. Still, the set-up on the car allowed us to conserve fuel, but kept
our pace in check on the straight meaning Sebastien really had to
persevere. As for being able to get on the podium here in my local Suzuka,
that was truly great. In the summer event at Suzuka, you can bet we’ll be
giving it our all.”