SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE, Japan – 08.13.2015 – Round 4 of the Japanese SUPER GT race series was held under blistering heat at Fuji Speedway (1 lap – 4.563km) in Shizuoka Prefecture, as the #24 “D’station ADVAN GT-R” (Daiki Sasaki / Michael Krumm) grabbed victory in the GT500 class. With this, the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 has achieved a three-round winning streak, following round 2 at Fuji and round 3 at Buriram, Thailand.
Furthermore, with the #12 “CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R” (Hironobu Yasuda / Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira) coming home third and the #1 “MOTUL AUTECH GT-R” (Tsugio Matsuda / Ronnie Quintarelli) finishing fourth, they are now first and second respectively in the championship rankings.
Coinciding with the Bon Festival holiday, Fuji Speedway saw a whopping 56,000 spectators turn out over the weekend to watch the race. Under the blazing sun, the fans in the grand stand experienced some sweltering conditions, but the excitement of race day blew away any concerns about the heat.
Having achieved very good results thus far in the season, both the #1 GT-R and #12 GT-R have been assigned handicap weights exceeding 50kg. Consequently, they have been fitted with fuel restrictors that limit the supply of fuel to the engine.
Due to Fuji Speedway’s considerably long straight, the difference in top speeds between cars with and without this device is quite telling. As a result, the two cars struggled during the official qualifying sessions, leaving the #12 starting the final race from 8th and the #1 from 11th on the grid. The #24 GT-R, having yet to be set any handicap weight, secured a 6th place start.
Starting behind the wheel of the #24 GT-R, Krumm protected their sixth position in the opening stages and then went on to climb up one spot before handing the car over to Sasaki. Approximately one hour after the race started, the road surface temperature began to drop and, as if corresponding to this, Sasaki began his push through the pack. First he passed the #100 NSX CONCEPT-GT to climb to fourth, and followed this up by overtaking the #36 RC F to leap into third.
In front of him the #1 GT-R was battling it out with the #38 RC F, but Sasaki almost effortlessly passed these two machines to put him in the top spot. After this he continued to lift his pace and pass the checkered flag with a 4.7-second margin over the next car. This was the first win for the #24 GT-R in five years and four months, the last being in the 2010 season opening round at Suzuka. Furthermore it was Sasaki’s first ever win in the SUPER GT, and Krumm’s first since 2004 at Tokachi, an interval of 11 years.
“We owe a big thank you to Yokohama for creating such strong tires,” said KONDO RACING team principal, Masahiko Kondo. “We’ve had a streak of bad luck, and there have been so many races where victory just slipped out of our grasp, so I’m really ecstatic. Everything finally came together, and we’ve been able to get this fantastic result. Krumm did a great job surpassing the harsh developments in the early stages of the race, and then Daiki really pulled out a superb performance.”
The success of the GT-Rs was not limited to this though. Starting from 11th on the grid, Matsuda took charge of the #1 GT-R and right from the word go was tenaciously chasing down his rivals to raise them to eighth by the time he headed into the pits. The NISMO mechanics then performed a blisteringly fast pit stop – 10 seconds faster than the rest of the competition – and when the #1 GT-R returned to the course it had risen to an astonishing real third place.
Quintarelli continued to ride on this momentum, passing the #36 RC F to put them in second, and rapidly began to close the gap with the #38 RC F. However, a sufficient chance to overtake the #38, which was free from the burden of a fuel restrictor, never quite presented itself, and towards the end of the race the #1 GT-R began to lose tire grip.
At this point it relinquished its position to the #12 GT-R and passed the checkered flag in fourth. The #12 GT-R had fallen down the order early in the race but shot back up in the second half to ultimately pass the #1 GT-R, a serious rival in the championship, to grab the third step on the podium. They are now sitting at the top of the point rankings.
Last round’s winner, the #46 “S Road MOLA GT-R” (Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida) started from 10th and completed the race in 14th place. In the GT300 class the #3 “B-MAX NDDP GT-R” (Kazuki Hoshino / Mitsunori Takaboshi) was hit by another car in the opening lap at Dunlop Corner, resulting in significant damage. Despite managing to get back to the pits it was forced to retire. The #10 “GAINER TANAX GT-R” (Andre Couto / Katsumasa Chiyo) came home in 6th and this put Couto at the top of the championship rankings.
#24 GT-R driver, Daiki Sasaki
“After Krumm did such a fantastic job to bring the car into the pits in fifth under those severe, hot conditions, I really tried to push as hard as I could after it began to cool down. At first I just aimed to grab third, but after I managed to get there I felt that I could go even further and continued to push for a higher spot. In the final stages I was furiously driving while desperately maintaining control of the tempestuous machine. I was overcome with emotion after I passed the finish line. Then after I brought the car into parc ferme and looked at Klumm’s face, tears once again filled my eyes.”
#24 GT-R driver, Michael Krumm
“This is my third season driving for KONDO RACING, and beginning from the folks at Yokohama Tires, everyone in the team has been fervently striving for a win. Today is the result of all those efforts. Of course there was also a bit of luck involved. We’ve had a lot of misfortune recently so I am incredibly happy with this win. Especially since its my first in 11 years.”
NISMO team principal Yutaka Suzuki
“Ronnie did an amazing job raising us up through the order. Unfortunately our speed on the straight was hampered and he was unable to overtake that last rival. Ultimately the tires began to lose grip and we fell back to fourth, but looking at the fact that we started from 11th and ended up engaging in a battle for the lead, I think this was a good race for us. Both the drivers and the team – who did some phenomenal pit work – deserve full recognition. We’re sitting at second in the rankings, but we’ll be going into the second half of the season with high hopes of taking the championship.”