JGTC USA – Race Report
Not Richard Lyons, But Kaneishi and Comas

© Gary Horrocks

All in all, it was an impressive display. A good sized crowd - the promoters claimed 30,000 - was on hand to (we thought) witness a Honda sweep of the GT500 and GT300 classes. Finishing first across the line was the PIAA Honda NSX of Tsugio Matsuda and Andre Lotterer, ‘winning’ by a few seconds over the G’Zox/SSR/Hasemi Nissan 350 Z of Toshihiro Kaneishi / Erik Comas. Winning GT300 was the M-Tec NSX of Tetsuya Yamano, Hiroyuki Yagi and Haruki Kurosawa.

However, the No. 3 G’Zox/SSR/Hasemi Nissan 350Z Turbo of Kaneishi and Comas was awarded the victory, the provisional winners being penalized 60 seconds for a pit stop infraction.

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Provisional winners Tsugio Matsuda and Andre Lotterer crossed the finish line 1.156 seconds ahead of the Kaneishi/Comas car, but were penalized 60 seconds for not completing their required pit stops (two) after lap 15. Cars were required to make two fuel stops in the 87-lap, 200.1-mile race, but not before the completion of lap 15. The PIAA Honda NSX Turbo of Lotterer pitted under caution on lap 15, but not after its completion, thus drawing the penalty. Three other cars received a similar penalty.

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Matsuda and Lotterer ‘won’ despite hitting the tire chicane early in the race and then going wide. The pole winning Nissan of Satoshi Motoyama and Richard Lyons had already been eliminated with rear suspension damage on the same lap, the eleventh, after receiving a bump from behind - and the entire front of the field was jumbled.

Satoshi Motoyama had taken the lead at the start, in the Nissan that Lyons had been quickest in all meeting so far. For 11 laps, Motoyama led a train of five cars, but then came one incident on that lap, to eliminate the Championship-winning car.

On the same lap, Lotterer, who was slicing through the field after a first lap spin, caught the turn one chicane tire wall, moving it enough to necessitate a full course caution from laps 13 through 16. With the loss of the Motoyama car, Benoit Treluyer took over the point in his No. 12 Calsonic/Impul Nissan 350Z Turbo, shared with Yuji Ide, until a lap 23 pit stop, thus handing the lead to Masami Kageyama in the No. 22 Motul/Pitwork Nissan 350Z Turbo, shared with Michael Krumm.

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Lotterer set a string of fastest laps and caught Kageyama in the No. 22 Nissan by lap 29, passing for the lead on lap 32. Just after being passed, Kageyama spun and collected the turn one chicane tires himself.

On lap 50, Lotterer pitted his NSX and handed over to teammate Tsugio Matsuda, relinquishing the lead to Comas briefly before he pitted to hand off to teammate Toshihiro Kaneishi on lap 57. With that stop, Matsuda assumed the lead again for the PIAA NSX, just ahead of Kaneishi.

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The No. 8 ARTA Honda NSX Turbo of Katsutomo Kaneishi and Daisuke Ito brought out the second caution when it struck water barrels in the final corner on lap 69. Following the green on lap 74, Matsuda pulled out to a 7.2-second lead over Kaneishi. The Nissan whittled down the lead over the final 13 laps, but crossed the finish line 1.156 seconds short of the Honda at the end of the event.

Yamano and Kurosawa shared the No. 16 M-Tec Honda NSX to win the GT300 class, despite also receiving a 60-second penalty.

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“I took over the car after Haruki [Kurosawa] and, for me, I think it was a good race and I drove fairly easy,” said Yamano. “I just had to take over and finish the race.

“It means a lot that after everyone’s efforts we were able to come together for our first race here in California,” Yamano added. “Having the people in the paddock and the parking lots was another good way to introduce [the series] to the public. In that way I think this event was very successful.”

Masataka Yanagida and Naofumi Omoto shared the second-place Nissan 350Z in GT300, followed by the Subaru Impreza of Katso Kobayashi and Tatsuya Tanigawa.

Overall then, the on track action was of a high caliber, and to the credits of all of the drivers, the tire chicane held up rather well. Much better that was expected anyway.

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At this point, I’ll get on my soapbox. I was not expecting as large a crowd as was present. Many series would be quite happy – no delighted - with the crowd that was here for the race. Grandstands were packed when the race started, and gradually thinned, but still, they were decently packed. This series definitely has something going for it. The enthusiastic crowd was into the action and much of that can be attributed to the fact that the current generation of gear-heads are into the import scene, and the cars on track were either cars that they owned or dream to own.

The FIA might have made a wise move to look to an association with the JGTC. It does not appear that the regulation changes to the two series should be too drastic. If that is so, some other series should look out. Even though this race was a one off and a relatively short event, I had a sort of a Sebring-type of feeling: very much like Sebring, just minus the camping scene.

The talk here was that while this was the first time for the Series to be here in the States, it will not be the last. Look out world, the Japanese are coming…

Almost all the car numbers were wrong on the official result: we think these are correct.

Result
1. (3), GT500, Toshihiro Kaneishi/Erik Comas, Nissan 350Z Turbo, 87
2. (32), GT500, Tsugio Matsuda/Andre Lotterer, Honda NSX Turbo, 87.
3. (35), GT500, Naoki Hattori/Shigekazu Wakisaka, Toyota Supra, 87, -25.989.
4. (12), GT500, Benoit Treluyer/Yuji Ide, Nissan 350Z Turbo, 87, -1:43.476.
5. (37), GT500, James Courtney/Tatsuya Kataoka, Toyota Supra, 86, -1 lap.
6. (16), GT300, Tetsuya Yamano/Haruki Kurosawa, Honda NSX, 84, -3 laps.
7. (100), GT500, Shinji Nakano/Hiroki Katoh/Bruce Jouanny, NSX, 83, -4 laps.
8. (81), GT300, Masataka Yanagida/Naofumi Omoto, Nissan 350Z Turbo, 81, -6 laps.
9. (77), GT300, Katsuo Kobayashi/Tatsuya Tanigawa, Subaru Impreza, 81, -15.886.
10. (63), GT300, OSAMU/Takaya Tsubobayashi, RD 320R, 81, -25.515.
11. (19), GT300, Takayuki Aoki/Nobuteru Taniguchi/Manabu Orido, Toyota Celica, 79, -8 laps.
12. (6), GT300, Geoff Escalette/Blake Russer, Porsche 911, 79, -1:54.612.
13. (80), GT300, Mitsuhiro Kinoshita/Kazuki Hoshino, Nissan 350Z, 78, -9 laps.
14. (2), GT300, Kazuho Takahashi/Akira Watanabe/Hiroki Yoshimoto, Honda NSX, 78, -8.595.
15. (26), GT300, Eiji Yamada/Patric Vanschoote, Dodge Viper, 73, -14 laps.
16. (8), GT500, Katsutomo Kaneishi/Daisuke Ito, Honda NSX, 65, Crash.
17. (5), GT300, Tetsuji Tamanaka/Go Mifune, RD 320R, 59, Mech.
18. (22), GT500, Masami Kageyama/Michael Krumm, Nissan 350Z Turbo, 58, Susp.
19. (7), GT300, Shinichi Yamaji/Hiroyuki Iiri, Mazda RX-7, 52, Crash.
20. (1), GT500, Satoshi Motoyama/Richard Lyons, Nissan 350Z Turbo, 12, Crash.
21. (18), GT500, Ryo Michigami/Sebastien Philippe, Honda NSX Turbo, 12, Crash.
22. (43), GT300, Morio Nitta/Shinichi Takagi, Garaiya, 9, Mech.
Note: Matsuda/Lotterer, Hattori/Wakisaka and Yamano/Kurosawa all penalized 60 seconds for not completing two fuel stops after lap 15.
Time of race: 2 hours, 13 minutes, 51.529 seconds.
Average speed: 89.691 mph
Margin of victory: 58.844 seconds (after 60-second penalty)
Lap leaders: Laps 1-11, #1 Satoshi Motoyama; laps 12-21, #12 Benoit Treyuler; laps 22-31, #22 Masami Kageyama; laps 32-50, #32 Tsugio Matsuda; laps 51-57, #3 Toshihiro Kaneishi
Fastest race lap: #12 Benoit Treluyer, 1:24.287 (98.235 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #1 Richard Lyons, 1:23.124 (99.610 mph)
Cautions: Two for eight laps

 

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