Japan Le Mans Challenge Report, Round 1 - Sugo May 14

The qualifying session of the first round of the Japan Le Mans Challenge was held in rainy conditions – and produced a fairly predictable (but small) grid.

The LMP1 Class Zytek took an unsurprising pole position, with a 1:24.141 by Hiroki Katoh. LMP2 pole position went to a GC21, a modified Dallara Formula 3 chassis with a Toyota engine. LM GT1 pole position was another deserved one, and Super GT Lexus driver Tatsuya Kataoka kept it in the Ferrari 550. LM GT2 pole position was won by Super GT GT300 class ace Shinichi Takagi, with an ex-Team Goh Porsche 911 GT3-RSR.

Qualifying Times
1. #21 LM-P1 1 DUNLOP Zytek 05S Hideki Noda / Hiroki Katoh 120.723 – 165.199
2. #4 LM-P2 1 MYZ Dallara GC-21 Yuya Sakamoto / Yoshihisa Namekata / Tomonobu Fujii 1:31.636 +10.913 145.525
3. #20 GT1 1 DUNLOP Ferrari 550 GT1 Tatsuya Kataoka / Naoki Hattori / Eiichi Tajima 1:31.862 +11.139 145.167
4. #18 LM-P2 2 Aim Sports GC-21 Shinsuke Yamazaki / Yuji Asoh / Masaru Tomizawa 1:32.095 +11.372 144.800
5. #15 LM-P2 3 Magami Power ADVAN Myst RS Club Ryohei Sakaguchi / Masayuki Ueta 1:33.958 +13.235 141.929
6. #3 LM-P2 4 Lifework BOMEX GC-21 Masayuki Yamamoto / Shogo Suoh / Junihiro Yamashita 1:34.819 +14.096 140.640
7. #27 LM-GT2 1 Shinwa Service RSR Koji Aoyama / Shinichi Takagi / Morio Nitta 1:35.433 +14.710 139.735
8. #9 LM-GT1 2 ARKTECH-LEYJUN and A&S-MT OSAMU / Masaki Tanaka / Hiroya Iijima 1:36.124 +15.401 138.730
9. #88 LM-GT1 3 Murcielago RGT Koji Yamanishi / Yasutaka Hinoi / WADA-Q 1:36.648 +15.925 137.978
10. #66 LM-P1 2 Shimazawa Jidosha BP SK93 Takahiko Shimazawa / Masaya Kono / Kenji Takeya 1:36.664 +15.941 137.955
11. #5 LM-GT2 2 Team Takamizawa BEND PORSCHE Kazuyoshi Takamizawa / Akihiko Tsutsumi / Jukucho Sunako 1:36.883 +16.160 137.644
12 #7 LM-GT2 3 DREAM AMGELS ADVAN RX7 Naoko Ogiwara / Yuki Kawai 1:49.440 +28.677 121.895

The race was held under sunny skies. Of course, the Zytek took the lead, and built a huge gap on the rest. After 20 minutes, it had lapped all the other cars. The Zytek seemed unbeatable at that time, but the engine stopped during their second stint, at the final corner. The car could be brought back to the pits and mechanics tried to fix it, but once they put the Zytek back in pitlane and tried to start it again, the engine did not re-fire, and the car never rejoined the track again.

The Ferrari 550, started by Tatsuya Kataoka, was passed into the care of Naoki Hattori, the winner of the Super GT Fuji race last week. They kept their pace and never gave up first place.

The GC21 cars are quick but they have a smaller fuel tank than the Ferrari, so they lost time with multiple pit stops.

Nothing particularly eventful happened until the five hour mark: the #4 MYZ Dallara GC21 had a huge crash at the final corner. The driver was unscathed but the car was on the course and red flag came out.

Because of the Zytek’s retirement, to race full 1000km was impossible at that time – and with the 70 per cent of race distance completed, the race was stopped and #21 Ferrari 550 took the win. An R8 at Houston, a 550 at Sugo...

The #9 Mosler picked up second in GT1, thanks to the red flag. The Mosler stopped on the course at the same time as the GC21 crashed. The #9 RX-7, shared by two lady drivers, finished 8th, the last of the finishers.

Result
1. #20 LM-GT1 1 DUNLOP Ferrari 550 GT1 Tatsuya Kataoka / Naoki Hattori / Eiichi Tajima 206 laps 4:58.55.822
2. #18 LM-P2 1 Aim Sports GC-21 Shinsuke Yamazaki / Yuji Asoh / Masaru Tomizawa 205 laps +1 lap
3. #27 LM-GT2 1 Shinwa Service RSR Koji Aoyama / Shinichi Takagi / Morio Nitta 200 laps +6 laps
4. #15 LM-P2 2 Magami Power ADVAN Myst RS Club Ryohei Sakaguchi / Masayuki Ueta 198 laps +8 laps
5. #66 LM-P1 Shimazawa Jidosha BP SK93 Takahiko Shimazawa / Masaya Kohno / Kenji Takeya 196 laps +10 laps
6 #5 LM-GT2 2 Team Takamizawa BEND PORSCHE Kazuyoshi Takamizawa / Akihiko Tsutsumi / Jukucho Sunako 195 laps +11 laps
7 #9 LM-GT1 2 ARKTECH-LEYJUN and A&S-MT OSAMU / Masaki Tanaka / Hiroya Iijima 191 laps +15 laps
8 #7 LM-GT2 3 DREAM ANGELS ADVAN RX7 Naoko Ogiwara / Yuki Kawai 151 laps +55 laps
- #4 LM-P2 MYZ Dallara GC-21 Yuya Sakamoto / Yoshihisa Namekata / Tomonobu / Fujii 141 laps +65 laps
- #21 LM-P1 DUNLOP Zytec 05S Hideki Noda / Hiroki Katoh 65 laps +141 laps
- #3 LM-P2 Lifework BOMEX GC-21 Masayuki Yamamoto / Shogo Suoh / Junichiro Yamashita 53 laps +153 laps
- #88 LM-GT1 Murcielago RGT Koji Yamanishi / Yasutaka Hinoi WADA-Q 40 laps +166 laps

To be honest, the race was far from exciting, but event itself was very interesting if you are interested in classic race cars. We enjoyed a 30 minute classic car race and exhibition, and a real endurance-race atmosphere. 12 cars in four classes are too few – but it was the first race of the new series. There was Mr. Goh, and his team did not race in Super GT, so I wonder if he has made up his mind to race in JLMC, with one of his cars?

Next round will be held in Motegi, on July 1-2. The spectators are hoping for a larger entry.
Tomoko Kobayashi

 

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