Super GTs At Sepang - Race Report

Hot & Honda
© Janos Wimpffen

There was a crowd of about 50,000 on hand for Malaysia’s third biggest motor sports event, after the F1 and Moto GPs. It clouded over a little but the wind was blowing from the south where it was clear - but the air temperature still reached 33 degrees.

Sixty minutes before the start the field was allowed out for a pair of reconnaissance laps—no bus class this time.

The differential case broke on the No. 96 Vemac and it didn’t start. The No. 110 Boxster of Hideshi Matsuda was late to grid and started from the rear.

Michael Krumm (No. 22 Nissan) very nearly powered away at the green ahead of Ralph Firman. But the pole winning No. 8 Honda made short shrift of the challenge and by the time they reached the quite distant turn 1 the lead had stretched by several car lengths.

Benoit Treluyer (No. 12 Nissan) was a slightly more distant third while back in the pack there was some argy-bargy. Championship points leader Ryo Michigami (No. 18 Honda) was among those involved but Andre Cuoto got the worst of it and brought the No. 66 Toyota Supra in for taping up of the right front corner. The stop lengthened with a late decision to change a tire on the other side.

Masami Kageyama (No. 13 Nissan) did get past the GT300 pole-sitting Shiden of Kazuho Takahashi and consolidated the lead through the next several laps. The purple Shiden dropped further down the order when passed by the hard charging yellow Mazda RX-7 of Tetsuya Yamano.

After seven laps Firman was about four seconds into the lead while the GT300 battle intensified. Yamano reeled in Kageyama and then dipped under the Nissan at the lap ending Turn 15 hairpin.

By lap 10 Firman was able to throttle back his speed and so did those behind him - but the Englishman was suffering with a cool suit failure, and had been feeling unwell anyway. Thus the gap stabilized at about 5 seconds. This was also about the time that the GT500 class encountered the GT300 cars. The tightly managed nature of the GT Association rules was much in evidence. The entire GT500 class (apart from Cuoto) was spread out by only 30 seconds with the GT300 starters bunched only slightly less.

At 14 laps, one-quarter distance, these were the positions:
1, # 8 Firman, NSX
2, # 22 Krumm, Nissan, -5 sec.
3, # 12 Treluyer, Nissan, -0.8 sec.
4, # 36, Lotterer, Lexus, -4 sec.
5, #100 Philippe, Honda, -6 sec.
--pretty processional stuff

GT300
1, # 7, Yamano, Mazda
2, # 13, Kageyama, Nissan, -6 sec.
3, # 55, Ikeda, Ford, -7 sec
4, # 14, Kinoshita, Porsche, -4 sec
5, # 19, Matsuda, Toyota, -0.5 sec

The Shiden had dropped to about 10th in class. Obviously a problem there, although the car continued. Nobuteru Taniguchi (No. 27 Vemac) was the hardest charger on the circuit and had moved to fifth in class.

Lap 20 and the pit stop window began: the troubled Shiden was the first to come in and Hiroki Katoh took over. The No. 35 Lexus had been a decided backmarker in GT500. It started several spots down the grid for having used its engine for less than two races, another unique Super GT rule. Nevertheless, Naoki Hattori takes over from Peter Dumbreck.

A lap later the day-glo leading, indeed dominant, NSX pitted. Super GT stops are quite fast compared to their ACO-rule brethren as fueling, tires, and driver changes all occur simultaneously. They typically last about 30 seconds.

While Daisuke Ito took over in the No. 8 car, Michael Krumm remained out and assumed the lead with the No. 22 Nissan. Other early (but scheduled) pit calls were made by the No. 100 Honda (Shinya Hosokawa in for Sebastien Philippe) and the No. 23 Nissan (Tsugio Matsuda in for Satoshi Motoyama).

The GT300 leader stopped on the overall leader’s 23rd lap, Hiroyuki Iiri taking over from Yamano. Most other GT300s remained out longer, excepting the No. 46 Nissan where Koto Sasaki took the wheel from Taku Bamba. The No. 1 and No. 36 Lexuses made their stops before Krumm finally handed the then leading Nissan over to Richard Lyons. This elevated the Team Impul Nissan of Benoit Treluyer to first place.

There was a fine scrap going on for second in GT300 between the Ford GT and the No. 47 Nissan. Daisuke Ikeda was ahead with the American built car but was goaded into locking up his wheels. As he squirreled off briefly onto the edge of the circuit, Masoami Nagashima in the 350Z also locked up his brakes while taking evasive action. The Nissan was able to grab the spot. All this allowed the usually unheralded No. 666 Honda of Shogo Suho to briefly move among the leaders in the class.

The race passed halfway and Treluyer had yet to stop. The rules require drivers to complete less than 75 percent of the distance, thus his time would now be approaching. Erik Comas had moved up to second overall with the No. 24 Kondo Racing Nissan, another yet to stop.

The No. 13 Endless Nissan had been elevated to first in GT300 when the Mazda stopped, but when Masami Kageyama finally stopped, some serious engine problems were discovered. The car would continue well out of the running, with several more calls at the pits.

By lap 34 the stops had all been made and standings largely recycled. Ito led Lyons by about 8 seconds. It was another 11 seconds back to No. 12, now with Kazuki Hoshino. Juichi Wakisaka was another 4 seconds down in fourth and Yuji Tachikawa rounded out the top five with the No.1 Lexus.

Iiri led GT300 by about 9 seconds from the No. 27 Vemac, now driven by Sogo Mitsuyama. The No. 19 Celica (Shigekaza Wakisaka) was third and the nicely recovering Shiden was next.

There was very little change or dicing over the next 6 laps, apart from Joao del Oliveira going off briefly in the yellow No. 3 Nissan and the fifth in class Ford also having a bit of a bobble.

Second stops are rarity in the series and the only ones that did so here were troubled. These included the No. 47 Nissan (damage from a spin), both Ferraris (several problems), and the No. 13 Nissan (continuing engine woes). The Couto / Hiranaka also stopped as it was off schedule. Later the tapework on the fender came loose and the car finished with the right front fender missing. All of these were GT300 cars. The only GT500 car of note with troubles was the no. 36 Nissan of Wakisaka, which came in for attention to the rear and later retired.

The sun was burning bright over the last 8 laps and lap times increased to about the 2:04 mark. Lyons was briefly able to close up on Ito, but it was clear that it was mostly because the Honda driver was easing off. Any full pursuit would have been futile.

There were a few bits of drama over the closing laps. The No. 666 Honda (Junichirou Yamashita) again came into the frame, winning a battle with the Shiden. Then the No. 6 Lexus (Tatsuya Kataoka), which had not been a factor, was stranded in the gravel for a short while.

More significantly, Tachikawa was dramatically slowing in the No. 1 Lexus and Team Cerumo was forced to call for a stop and replace a punctured tire. He had to stop again for adjustments, completely dropping them out of any good finishing spot.

The last two laps wound down in a somewhat processional manner. Ito’s lead was now 6 seconds. Behind him the No. 7 Mazda of Iiri had an equally strong hold of the GT300 glass lead.

Great cars, great place to visit—but needed a bit more spunk, whether real of manufactured.

Result
1 500-1 8 ARTA NSX Daisuke Ito Ralph Firman 1:51'41.405 54 2'00.151 BS 0kg

2 500-2 22 MOTUL AUTECH Z Michael Krumm Richard Lyons 0'05.663 54 2'00.498 BS 10
3 500-3 12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z Benoit Treluyer Kazuki Hoshino 0'25.120 54 2'00.744 BS 10
4 500-4 100 RAYBRIG NSX Sebastien Philippe Shinya Hosokawa 0'44.161 54 2'00.892 BS 30
5 500-5 23 XANAVI NISMO Z Satoshi Motoyama Tsugio Matsuda 0'51.637 54 2'01.284 BS 30
6 500-6 18 TAKATA DOME NSX Ryo Michigami Takashi Kogure 1'20.454 54 2'01.591 BS 70
7 500-7 3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA Z Naoki Yokomizo J.P.Lima De Oliveira 1'28.867 54 2'01.692 BS 10
8 500-8 24 WOODONE ADVAN KONDO Z Erik Comas Masataka Yanagida 1'30.838 54 2'01.615 YH 10
9 500-9 32 EPSON NSX Loic DUVAL Hideki Mutoh 1'34.934 54 2'01.694 DL
10 500-10 25 ECLIPSE ADVAN SUPRA Manabu Orido Takeshi Tsuchiya 1Lap 53 2'01.639 YH
11 500-11 35 BANDAI DIREZZA SC430 Naoki Hattori Peter Dumbreck 1Lap 53 2'02.730 DL 60
12 500-12 1 ZENT CERUMO SC Yuji Tachikawa Toranosuke Takagi 1Lap 53 2'01.094 BS 20
13 500-13 66 triple a SARD SUPRA GT Andre Couto Katsuyuki Hiranaka 4Laps 50 2'03.692 BS 20
14 300-1 7 Amemiya AsparaDrink RX7 Tetsuya Yamano Hiroyuki Iiri 1:52'26.697 50 2'11.347 YH
15 300-2 27 direxiv ADVAN 320R Shogo Mitsuyama Nobuteru Taniguchi 0'04.210 50 2'11.892 YH 45
16 300-3 19 WedsSport Celica Koji Matsuda Shigekazu Wakisaka 0'04.535 50 2'11.488 YH
17 300-4 2 I.M JIHAN CO.LTD APPLE Shiden Kazuho Takahashi Hiroki Katoh 0'17.387 50 2'11.429 YH 15
18 300-5 55 DHG ADVAN FORD GT Hidetoshi Mitsusada Daisuke Ikeda 0'42.650 50 2'11.613 YH
19 300-6 14 HANKOOK ENDLESS PORSCHE Mitsuhiro Kinoshita Kyosuke Mineo 1'10.913 50 2'12.521 HK 10
20 300-7 777 Ryozanpaku apr MR-S Minoru Tanaka Kazuya Oshima 1'14.665 50 2'12.616 MI
21 300-8 5 Proµ MACH GOGOGO SHAKEN 320R Tetsuji Tamanaka Katsuhiko Tsutsui 1Lap 49 2'11.717 YH
22 300-9 110 TOTALBENEFIT GREENTEC BOXSTER Hideshi Matsuda Ichijo Suga 1Lap 49 2'12.025 YH 25
23 300-10 47 Kiccho Houzan DIREZZA Z Masaoki Nagashima Hironobu Yasuda 1Lap 49 2'12.538 DL
24 300-11 910 SENZAIKAKUMEI TEAM UEMATSU & ISHIMATSU RSR Tadao Uematsu Yasushi Kikuchi 1Lap 49 2'14.337 YH
25 300-12 46 Kiccho Houzan DIREZZA Z Kota Sasaki Taku Banba 1Lap 49 2'12.973 DL 25
26 300-13 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC408R Shinsuke Shibahara Hiroyuki Yagi 2Laps 48 2'13.340 YH 30
27 300-14 10 T&G CyberAgent DUNLOP F360 Hiromi Naofumi Omoto 2Laps 48 2'14.735 DL
28 300-15 666 LifeWork BOMEX APPLE NSX Shogo Suho Junichiro Yamashita 2Laps 48 2'15.152 YH
29 500-14 6 Mobil 1 SC Akira Iida Tatsuya Kataoka 7Laps 47 2'02.274 BS 30
30 300-16 70 Gaishano Gaikokuya ADVAN PORSCHE Yoshimi Ishibashi Akira Hirakawa 3Laps 47 2'14.565 YH
31 300-17 11 JIM CENTER FERRARI DUNLOP Tetsuya Tanaka Takayuki Aoki 5Laps 45 2'13.317 DL 15
32 500-15 36 OPEN INTERFACE TOM'S SC430 Juichi Wakisaka Andre Lotterer 10Laps 44 2'00.500 BS 20
33 300-18 13 ENDLESS ADVAN CCI Z Masami Kageyama Tomonobu Fujii 12Laps 38 2'11.500 YH 20
Not Classified (GT500 : 37Laps / GT300 : 35Laps)
300 101 TEAM RUN'A apr MR-S Morio Nitta Shinichi Takagi 16Laps 34 2'12.776 MI 20

 

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