Round 2 of this year’s SUPER
GT took place at Okayama International Circuit over the weekend, just a
fortnight after the season-opener at Suzuka.
Honda was looking for as
different a result as possible at the compact and twisty track near Hiroshima,
and Round 1 pole position man Takashi Kogure was out to prove his pace in the
new car was no fluke.
Qualifying took the form of
a knockout format for the second event in a row, making Saturday afternoon much
busier on track, something positively received by the fans.
Broken into three sections,
the thirteen-car GT500 field was whittled down to the top ten in S1, condensed
further to the top seven in S2, with the starting order of that group
determined in S3. Drivers alternate through S1 to S3, meaning one guy does two
sections, the other just one.
Kogure at the office…
Yuji Tachikawa was second
quickest in the ZENT Cerumo SC430, eager to score points after the car finished
ninth in the previous round.
The Calsonic GT-R netted
third in the capable hands of Ronnie Quintarelli, the Italian now with his best
chance at the title in this, his third season of GTs.
The Team Kraft SC430 was
another Lexus entry to do well in the opening round, taking sixth place. The
driver combi of Oshima and Ishiura appears to be gaining strength from race to
Really making a mark at
Suzuka was the Team LeMans SC430, Bjorn Wirdheim and Daisuke Ito’s 2nd
place giving the pair a strong start to 2010.
The Nakajima Racing HSV-010
GT has Honda stalwart and development driver Ryo Michigami joining Yuhi
Nakayama this season. Tenth place at Suzuka probably wasn’t as good a result as
they might have liked, but it was better than a couple of the other Hondas…
Tyre trouble for the NISMO
GT-R meant only seventh place in qualifying… Better fortunes were definitely
hoped for on Sunday.
GT300 featured a fantastic
qualifying battle as the knockout format took its toll on a few of the
competitors. Winning out was the #86 Lamborghini Gallardo.
Former category champions
the MOLA Fairlady Z took 2nd…
Followed by a highly
impressive performance from IRL refugee Kouske Matsuura in the #31 Toyota
A podium at Suzuka showed a
WedsSports team in fine shape, but would they be able to repeat, or better the
result at Okayama?
The other Corolla AXIO took
5th on Saturday…
…while the ARTA Garaiya was
Looking slippery as ever,
the Mooncraft Shiden was last of the S3 survivors in seventh place with new
recruit Hiroshi Hamaguchi at the wheel in his second event for the team.
Saturday was also the debut
of the 365 ThunderAsia Racing Mosler M900M, with Singaporean owner/driver
Melvin Choo joined by double British GT champion Tim Sugden in the growling
All cars in both classes got
away cleanly at the start.
The GT300 pack really
fanning out at the only wide part of the circuit.
Takashi Kogure made it stick
this time around, steadily building up a gap over the ensuing pack.
The JLOC’s newest Gallardo
made the most of its starting spot, keeping ahead in the early laps.
Kogure kept the silver Honda
in the lead as he threaded his way through the GT300 machinery.
The Hasemi Motorsport
Fairlady Z started a modest twelfth, but made huge gains in the race to come
Both Kazuki Hoshino and
Masataka Yanagida are former NISSAN drivers in GT500, and will surely be strong
over the course of the year. The pair was fifth at Suzuka in what’s been a
strong start to the season.
With the tight and twisty of
the track, the GT500 cars sometimes had to wait a while to get past their GT300
After coming top among the
HSV-010GT entries on the car’s debut with third, this time the team pulled a
few more points into the bag with eighth.
Scoring by far its best
result yet, the R&D SPORT LEGACY B4 took 12th at the flag after tasting
points while running 10th in the middle stages.
Andre Couto started the
DENSO SARD SC430 from ninth on the grid. His teammate Kohei Hirate went onto
The #17 HSV-010GT was
nowhere to be seen for most of Saturday, having crashed hard early on in the
morning’s free practice session.
There was no certainty the
car would be able to race, but an all-nighter by the mechanics paid off and the
blue machine lined up at the back of the grid.
A little ways from the
front, the #32 Nakajima Racing HSV-010 GT was hounding the #23 NISMO GT-R…. It
would lead to tears for the Nissan machine whose day was ended when the Honda
speared it off track on the backstretch, earning a penalty in the process.
A hugely entertaining battle
for second place ensued between Richard Lyons in the ZENT Cerumo SC430 and
current champion Juichi Wakisaka in the #1 TOM’S car
The Northern Irishman
getting by just four laps from the end, trading positions on the podium with
Andre Lotterer’s teammate.
Winners in GT300 at Suzuka,
the Re:Amemiya RX-7 failed to make it to the end, but looked superb while it
was still in the race.
The battle for fifth was
this close later on, with the ENEOS SC430 taking the position from the ARTA
Honda just before the end
Heading toward the double
hairpin in the later stages of the 300km race
As soon as Lyons had
dispatched with Wakisaka, the Japanese driver had his mirrors full with Tsugio
Matsuda breathing down his neck…
Honda wins with its new car
in the hands of Loic Duval and Takashi Kogure, while a pair of Lexus entries
filled out the podium in GT500. The top Nissan was the CALSONIC GT-R, which
Meanwhile in GT300, Nissan
had a very good day, the MOLA Fairlady Z taking a decisive win and the Hasemi
car taking third. They were sandwiching the Mooncrat Shiden of Hiroki Katoh and
highly impressive Hiroshi Hamaguchi.