JGTC Report – Autopolis – October 31
It was the Autopolis circuit for round 6 right at the end of last month, a track which used to host a round of the SWC, and is still one of the most challenging circuits in Japan.

The race weekend was expected to be wet, but the rain fell over the circuit on Friday only. The first qualifying session was cloudy with a little sun, and the track was damp. In the GT500 class, the #12 Impul Z and #18 Takata Dome NSX did not attack for a qualifying time, but they could lap faster than standard 107% time. Provisional pole position went to #38 au Cerumo Supra of Yuji Tachikawa, followed by #6 ESSO Ultraflo Supra driven by Juichi Wakisaka and the #1 Xanavi NISMO Z, both with 80kg success ballast.

In the GT300 class, the #80 Endless Daishin ADVAN Z of Mitsuhiro Kinoshita was fastest and set a new, unofficial course record, faster than the #10 Jim Gainer ADVAN F360 last year. The #10 Ferrari F360 of Tetsuya Tanaka was second fastest followed by the #19 Wedssport Celica of Kohta Sasaki.

On Saturday afternoon, the wind was still very cold but it was sunnier than the morning.

In GT300, the #7 Amemiya Aspara Drink RX7 by Shinichi Yamaji recorded 1'50.443 and went up to the class pole position, from fifth in the morning. Others like the #43 Garaiya of Morio Nitta got closer but could not go faster, but #43 was quick enough to lead their championship rival, the #16 M-TEC NSX and the #10 JIM Gainer ADVAN F360. Pole position went to the #7 RX7, followed by the #19 Wedssport Celica and #43 Garaiya. #63 Leyjun Dunlop 320R did run in the second qualifying session after their transmission was broken on Thursday, and they wanted to take care of it.

In GT500 second qualifying, the #12 Impul Z spun at the second hairpin but recovered without any problem. Then, #38 au Cerumo Supra and #100 RAYBRIG NSX went off the course: the #38 Supra (Yuji Tachikawa) hit the sponge barrier and #100 stopped at the second hairpin. Both of them could go back on course soon but the barrier which was scattered by #38 Supra had to be fixed, so the session was stopped. The session was re-started with nine minutes left and #25 ECLIPSE ADVAN Supra of Dominik Schwager, who lost some places with the traffic in the first qualifying session, improved to 1'44.186. It was the quickest time of the session so far, but the #1 Xanavi Z of Satoshi Motoyama went faster, and the #38 Supra that had just hit the barrier recorded the fastest time: 1'42.840. That was the pole position for Tachikawa. The #6 Supra of Juichi Wakisaka was second-quickest and #1 Z was third. The winner of last year’s race, the SARD #25 Supra, was fifth fastest.

Second Qualifying Session – 30 October
GT500

1 - #38 – au Cerumo Supra – Yuji Tachikawa – 1'42.840 – 30kg
2 - #6 – Esso Ultraflo Supra – Juichi Wakisaka – 1'43.050 – 80 kg
3 - #1 – Xanavi NISMO Z – Satoshi Motoyama – 1'43.141 – 80kg
4 - #10 – RAYBRIG NSX – Hiroki Katoh – 1'43.181
5 - #25 – ECLIPSE ADVAN Supra – Dominik Schwager – 1'43.186 – 20kg
6 - #3 – G'ZOX SSR Hasemi Z – Toshihiro Kaneishi – 1'43.587 – 40kg
7 - #39 – DENSO SARD Supra GT – Jeremie Dufour – 1'43.592 – 40kg
8 - #35 – Yellowhat YMS Supra – Naoki Hattori – 1'43.717 – 20kg
9 - #22 – Motul Pitwork Z – Michael Krumm – 1'43.872 – 90kg
10 - #8 – ARTA NSX – Daisuke Ito – 1'43.896 – 50kg
11 – #37 – DYNACITY TOM'S Supra – James Courtney – 1'43.919 – 50kg
12 - #32 – EPSON NSX – Andre Lotterer – 1'44.326 – 50kg
13 - #18 – TAKATA DOME NSX – Ryo Michigami – 1'45.328
14 - #36 – WOODONE TOM'S Supra – Takeshi Tsuchiya – 1'45.427 – 20kg
15 - #12 – Carsonic Impul Z – Yuji Ide – 1'46.422 – 40kg
16 - #21 – Ferrari 550GTS Maranello – Hidetoshi Mitsusada – 1'46.486
- #88 – JLOC Murcie RG-1 – WADA-Q - 1'54.072

GT300
1 - #7 – Amemiya Aspara Drink RX7 – Shinichi Yamaji – 1'50.443 – 25kg
2 - #19 – Wedssport Celica – Nobuteru Taniguchi – 1'50.656 – 30kg
3 - #43 - ARTA Garaiya – Morio Nitta – 1'50.710 – 65kg
4 - #10 – JIM Gainer ADVAN F360 – Tetsuya Tanaka – 1'51.202 – 30kg
5 - #16 – M-TEC NSX – Tetsuya Yamano – 1'51.272 – 80kg
6 - #77 – Cusco Subaru ADVAN Impreza – Tatsuya Tanigawa – 1'51.273
7 - #30 – RECKLESS MR-S – Kohta Sasaki – 1'51.347 – 10kg
8 - #31 – A'PEX I-mobisess MR-S – Kohji Matsuda – 1'51.420 – 10kg
9 - #5 – Projectµ B-1 Mach Go GT 320R – Go Mifune – 1'51.449
10 - #11 – JIM RodeoDrive ADVAN F360 – Hideshi Matsuda – 1'51.730 – 30kg
11 - #52 – Projectµ Taiyo Sekiyu Celica – Hironori Takeuchi – 1'51.866 – 10kg
12 – #17 – Espelir Kosei Celica – Masahiro Matsunaga – 1'52.379
13 - #80 – Endless Daishin ADVAN Z – Mitsuhiro Kinoshita – 1'52.643 – 50kg
14 - #81 – C-West Daishin ADVAN Z – Masataka Yanagida – 1'52.661 – 35kg
15 - #26 – Endless Taisan ADVAN GT3R – Yutaka Yamagishi – 1'53.151
16 - #9 – ADVAN K-STADIUM MT – Shinya Hosokawa – 1'53.676
17 - #51 – NSC AUTO-STAFF ADVAN Silvia – Masanobu Katoh – 1'53.784
18 - #2 – Privee Zurich Kumho NSX – Akira Watanabe – 1'53.959
19 - #72 – ADVAN BORO Porsche – Akira Hirakawa – 1'55.021
20 - #910 – Takamizawa Seikotsuin ADVAN Porsche – Sunako “Jukucho” – 1'55.791
21 - #20 – FK/Massimo ADVAN Porsche – Hiroshi Wada – 1'56.117
- #70 - Fields Gaikokuya ADVAN Porsche – Hiromi – 1'59.481
- #63 – LEYJUN Dunlop 320R – no time

In Sunday morning’s free practice, the weather was cloudy, temperatures were down and rain was expected. But the tyre and surface temperatures got warmer within 10 minutes of the start of the warm up, and many of the cars started to go quicker: #25 Supra was the fastest at first with 1'45.481, and #6 Supra and bad-qualifiers #8 NSX and #36 followed them. After 20 minutes, the #81 GT300 car, the Nissan of Naofumi Omoto, spun and stopped on the course and the #3 Z of Erik Comas could not avoid him and crashed into it. Fortunately neither was hurt seriously but Comas had a stiff neck.

After the red flag caused by the accident, almost all cars were out for the last few minutes, and Richard Lyons was fastest.

The Race
The 65 lap race was started at 14:00 under thick cloud cover. The two ‘DNQs’, the #88 Murcielago and #70 Porsche, were too slow in free practice as well as qualifying, but they were allowed to start from the pit road.

The start was delayed after the rolling pack was adjudged to be too disordered, and it took two more laps to start the race, which was shortened to the 63 laps. At the first corner of lap 1, the #1 Z of Satoshi Motoyama tried to overtake the pole-sitter, the #38 Supra of Seiji Ara - and Motoyama hit Ara. The Le Mans winner was in the gravel, and went back onto the course at the tail of the GT500 cars. Motoyama also slipped back, to fifth. The #3 Z of Toshihiro Kaneishi was hit by Andre Couto’s #39 Supra, and #3 was stuck in the gravel, with broken oil lines.

dailysportscar.comNaughty #39 (Couto) then next tried to catch out the #100 NSX of Hiroki Kato, but had a spin on lap 3. Couto, who before the race was told "Remember, I chose you," by his team manager Takayoshi Ohhashi, showed his ability not only to the ex-Mazda manager, but also to the nearly 50,000 people who visited Autopolis that weekend. Meanwhile, 2003 Autopolis winner Manabu Orido, driving the #25 Team Tsuchiya Supra, led Akira Iida in the #6 Supra but found the going increasingly difficult, his tyres fading fast. Behind them, it took Motoyama four laps to edge his #1 Nissan Z past NSX #100 when they caught up with slower traffic, the Nissan out-powering the Honda in spite of 80kgs of success ballast.

When the tyres on #25 finally gave out some 20 laps into the race, Supra #6 moved into the lead, and Iida set out to draw as far away from the field as possible. But only two laps later he hit a patch of oil that had been shed by Nissan #3, and gyrated back down to third spot, only just in front of Couto's #39.

In a change of strategy, Team Le Mans called #6 in early to get the mandatory pit stop out of the way and let "ace" Juichi Wakisaka take over for a fast stint. The danger of using up their tyres before the end was a risk they would have to take. Orido relinquished the lead on lap 30 as he pitted and Dominik Schwager took over Toyota #25; as the next couple of cars emerged from pit lane, Jeremie Dufour in #39 found himself ahead of his immediate rivals in the Championship standings, Wakisaka and Richard Lyons (Nissan #1); on cold tyres, he chose discretion over valour and let them go.

dailysportscar.comAgain, #25 was on the move, and Schwager soon caught up with the leaders. And again, it did not last long - ten laps, to be precise - as the Toyota Supra wore out its tyres quickly. Intent on taking home a maximum points score, Lyons drove Nissan #1 back into the lead (right), and Schwager came under pressure from Wakisaka and Dufour - until these two tangled on lap 54. Wakisaka rejoined the race in sixth place, and a call went out to the TOM's Toyotas to make way for him.

Against this orchestrated Toyota attack, Nissan #1 was to receive welcome assistance the #12 Z-car (Yuji Ide / Benoit Treluyer) which had quietly worked its way up the order. Now in fifth spot, just ahead of #6, their mission was to hold up #6, in support of Lyons' bid for the race win and the lead in the points standings. And they succeeded: Toyota #6 got by on the very last lap, but Motoyama / Lyons were in the lead of the championship before the last round at Suzuka in two weeks' time. Their 69 points give them an 11 point lead over Dufour / Couto, and 12 points over Wakisaka / Iida.

GT300 saw #7 Mazda RX7 (Shinichi Yamaji / Hiroyuki Iiri) lead from start to finish. Behind them, came the #19 Celica of Nobuteru Taniguchi, #43 Garaiya of Morio Nitta and #80 Z driven by Kazuki Hoshino. #7 RX7 started to build a firm lead over the #19 Celica by lap 10. The Championship points leader, #16 NSX of Tetsuya Yamano, was struggling with 80kg weight and ran in eighth. The #43 Garaiya was very quick and overtook #19 Celica on lap 27, and soon afterwards, #19 pitted to change from
Nobuteru Taniguchi to Takayuki Aoki.

On lap 34, the #43 Garaiya, in second, pitted and changed to Shinichi Takagi, but, the
GT300 race leader of Shinichi Yamaji waited for the #43 to pit, to hang onto the lead before Yamaji's partner took over. Iiri drove carefully and did not give way to the #43 Garaiya which followed the #7 RX7 closely.

The #77 Impreza, which hard started from sixth, moved steadily up to third. On the final lap, Takagi’s #43 Garaiya was delayed by slower cars and #77 Subaru driver Katsuo Kobayashi passed him: but same fate then happened to the Impreza: Takagi passed Kobayashi with a late move, and finished the race two seconds behind the #7 RX7. Here are Yamaji / Iiri on the top step of the podium.

dailysportscar.com

The GT500 Lamborghini Murcielago was having a very difficult time – slower than the GT300 front runners, and raced amidst GT300 midfielders – until contact with some of them. This entry, plus the #21 Ferrari 550 (which finished 28th), are made under the FIA-GT regulations, and have not been given larger air restrictors. It's sad to see those cars in slower traffic but they add lustre for the Japanese’ most popular championship.
Tomoko Kobayashi

dailysportscar.com

Race Result
1 #1 GT500-1st - Xanavi NISMO Z – Satoshi Motoyama/Richard Lyons – 1:54'34.309 – 63 laps – 80kg
2 #39 GT500-2nd – DENSO SARD Supra GT – Jeremie Dufour/Andre Couto - +5.339 – 63 laps – 40kg
3 #25 GT500-3rd – Manabu Orido/Dominik Schwager - +9.652 – 63laps – 20kg
4 #6 GT500-4th – ESSO Ultraflo Supra – Juichi Wakisaka/Akira Iida - +24.242 – 80kg
5 #12 GT500-5th – CALSONIC IMPUL Z – Benoit Treluyer/Yuji Ide - +24.717 – 63laps – 40kg
6 #37 GT500-6th – DYNACITY TOM'S Supra – James Courtney/Tatsuya Kataoka - +25.047 – 63laps – 50kg
7 #36 GT500-7th – WOODONE TOM'S Supra – Takeshi Tsuchiya/Marco Apicella - +26.394 – 63laps – 20kg
8 #35 GT500-8th – Yellowhat YMS Supra – Naoki Hattori/Shigekazu Wakisaka - +27.540 – 63laps – 20kg
9 #22 GT500-9th – Motul Pitwork Z Masami Kageyama/Michael Krumm - +27.806 – 63laps – 90kg
10 #100 GT500-10th – RAYBRIG NSX – Shinji Nakano/Hiroki Katoh - +31.679 – 63laps
11 #38 GT500-11th – au Cerumo Supra – Yuji Tachikawa/Seiji Ara - +57.078 – 63laps – 30kg
12 #32 GT500-12th - EPSON NSX – Tsugio Matsuda/Andre Lotterer – +1'14.340 – 63 laps – 50kg
13 #8 GT500-13th - ARTA NSX – Katsutomo Kaneishi/Daisuke Ito – +1'15.425 – 63 laps
14 #18 GT500-14th – TAKATA DOME NSX – Ryo Michigami/Sebastien Philippe - +1'15.730 – 63lap
15 #7 GT300-1st – Amemiya Aspara Drink RX7 Shinichi Yamaji/Hiroyuki Iiri – 1:55'42.855 – 60laps – 25kg
16 #43 GT300-2nd – ARTA Garaiya – Morio Nitta/Shinichi Yamaji - +5.254 – 60laps – 65kg
17 #77 GT300-3rd – Cusco Subaru ADVAN Impreza – Katsuo Kobayashi/Tatsuya Tanigawa - +5.706 – 60laps
18 #80 GT300-4th – Endless Daishin ADVAN Z – Mitsuhiro Kinoshita/Kazuki Hoshino - +6.623 – 60laps – 50kg
19 #19 GT300-5th – Wedssport Celica – Takayuki Aoki/Nobuteru Taniguchi - +14.670 – 60laps – 30kg
20 #16 GT300-6th – M-TEC NSX – Tetsuya Yamano/Hiroyuki Yagi - +16.791 – 60laps – 80kg
21 #11 GT300-7th JIM RodeoDrive ADVAN F360 – Hideshi Matsuda/Ichijo Suga - +31.916 – 60laps - 30kg
22 #10 GT300-8th – JIM Gainer ADVAN F360 – Tetsuya Tanaka/Atsushi Yogo - +46.948 – 60 laps – 30kg
23 #30 GT300-9th – RECKLESS MR-S – Kohta Sasaki/Satoru Goto - +47.338 – 60laps – 10kg
24 #31 GT300-10th – A'PEX i-mobisess MR-S – Minoru Tanaka/Kohji Matsuda - +1lap – 59laps – 10kg
25 #17 GT300-11th – Espelir Kosei Celica – Masaoki Nagashima/Masahiro Matsunaga - +1lap – 59laps
26 #5 GT300-12th – ProjectµB-1 Mach Go GT 320R – Tetsuji Tamanaka/Go Mifune - +1lap – 59laps
27 #26 GT300-13th – Endless Taisan ADVAN GT3R – Hiroshi Yamagishi /Kaoru Ijiri - +1lap – 59laps
28 #21 GT500-15th – Ferrari 550GTS Maranello – Hidetoshi Mitsusada/Tadao Uematsu - +5laps – 58 laps
29 #51 GT300-14th – NSC AUTO-STAFF ADVAN Silvia – Masanobu Katoh/Katsuhiko Tsutsui - +2laps – 58laps
30 #72 GT300-15th – ADVAN BORO Porsche – Akira Hirakawa/Hideo Fukuyama - +2laps – 58laps
31 #9 GT300-16th – ADVAN K-STADIUM MT Go Shimizu/Shinya Hosokawa - +2laps – 58laps
32 #63 GT300-17th – LEYJUN Dunlop 320R OSAMU/Takaya Tsubobayashi - +2laps – 58laps – 60kg
33 #52 GT300-18th – ProjectµTaiyo Sekiyu Celica – Hironori Takeuchi/Seigo Nishizawa – +2laps – 58laps – 10kg
34 #81 GT300-19th – C-West Daishin ADVAN Z – Masataka Yanagida/Naofumi Omoto - +2laps – 58laps – 35kg
35 #2 GT300-20th – Privee Zurich Kumho NSX – Kazuho Takahashi/Akira Watanabe - +2laps – 58laps
36 #20 GT300-21st – FK/Massimo ADVAN Porsche – Hiroshi Wada/Takashi Inoue - +3laps – 57laps
37 #910 GT300-22nd – Takamizawa Seikotsuin ADVAN Porsche – Kazuyoshi Takamizawa/Sunako “Jukucho” - +3laps – 57laps
38 #70 GT300-23rd – Fields Gaikokuya ADVAN Porsche – Yoshimi Ishibashi/Hiromi - +5laps – 55laps

Did not finish:
#88 GT500 JLOC Murcie RG-1 Koji Yamanishi/WADA-Q – 30laps
#3 GT500 G'ZOX SSR Hasemi Z – Toshihiro Kaneishi/Erik Comas – 15laps – 40kg

Fastest laps:
GT500 - #38 au Cerumo Supra – Yuji Tachikawa – 1'44.639
GT300 - #77 Ameimya Aspara Drink RX7 – Shinichi Yamaji – 1'52.498

 

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