2015 Autobacs Super GT Round 4 – Fuji
14 Aug, 2015
In fair weather on August 9th, the FUJI GT 300km RACE, Round 4 of the 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place at Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Pref.). Despite an increasing number of clouds compared to the morning, a hot sun still shone down on Fuji Speedway during the race, as the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Michael Krumm) came on strong and relentless in the second half to take the win in the GT500 class.
In the GT300 class, the No. 55 ARTA CR-Z GT driven by Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi raced virtually unchallenged for a pole-to-checkers win.
In sharp contrast to Saturday's heavy cloud cover, race day brought fair weather with blue summer skies to Fuji Speedway. At the time of the start the air temperature and track surface temperature were 32 degrees and 48 degrees C. respectively, the highest recorded during the entire race weekend. After the 3:00 pm start, both the air temperature and track surface temperature would gradually cool down but still remained a relatively hot 27 degrees and 36 degrees C. respectively at the time of the finish, making it a tough race for both the drivers and the machines.
At the end of the rolling start, it was the winner of the last two pole positions, Yuji Tachikawa in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F that made the best starting dash. Following from 2nd place and downward came the No. 8 ARTA NSX CONCEPT-GT (Tomoki Nojiri), No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F (James Rossiter), No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F (Kohei Hirate), No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Michael Krumm) and the No. 15 Drago Modulo NSX CONCEPT-GT (Oliver Turvey), but by the end of the first lap there was already a clear gap between the leading car No. 38 and the rest of the pack.
In the trailing group from 2nd place downward, battles for position developed here and there, among which the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F passed the No. 8 ARTA NSX CONCEPT-GT on the first turn of lap three to move into 2nd position. After dropping to 3rd position, the No. 8 ARTA NSX CONCEPT-GT came under fierce attack from the pursuing No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F. Next, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) passed both the No. 15 Drago Modulo NSX CONCEPT-GT and the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R on the hairpin of lap eight, after which the three machines began to battle at very close quarters for some time. Meanwhile, to their rear another pitched battle was taking place between the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA RC F (Kazuya Oshima) and the No. 37 KeePer TOM'S RC F (Andrea Caldarelli), which continued until the two machines collided in the final corner of the ninth lap. In the aftermath of this collision the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA RC F would end up at the very back of the pack. The No. 37 KeePer TOM'S RC F was also knocked back to 9th position as a result of the accident.
Out of range of these battles going on behind it, the leading No. 8 ZENT CERUMO RC F continued to increase its margin over the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F in 2nd place until it already commanded a large 5-second lead by the end of the 10th lap.
Having maintained pace and steadily widened his margin of lead, Tachikawa brought the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F back to the pit for the routine stop and driver change after the 31st lap. The team completed the pit work in a fast 43.8 seconds and sent the second driver, Ishiura, back into the race. On the next lap, the next three leading machines, the No. 8 ARTA NSX CONCEPT-GT (Kosuke Matsuura), No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) and the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) also made their routine pit stops. Among the top group, however, the pit work of the No. 23 NISMO team was especially fast, and they managed to get back on the track in front of cars No. 24 and No. 8 to then stand in 5th position. Finally, two laps later, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN RC F (Yuhi Sekiguchi changing to Juichi Wakisaka) and No. 37 KeePer TOM'S RC F (Andrea Caldarelli changing to Ryo Hirakawa) made their pit stop, at which point all of the cars had completed their routine stops. At this point in the race, the leading order was the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F in 1st place followed by the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F (Daisuke Ito) as the top two, with the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R in 3rd, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT (Takuya Izawa) in 4th and the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R in 5th place.
The second-half action began with the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R taking aim at the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F in front of it and rapidly closing the gap. It was coming out of the Dunlop Corner of lap 38 that No. 1 finally succeeded in making it past No. 36. Next, No. 1 began chasing down the leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F. At this point, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R was still caught in the group battling for 4th place behind the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT, but after several one-on-one matches with the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT, No. 24 finally succeeded in overtaking it on the first turn of the 53rd lap to move into 4th position.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R had succeeded in moving up on the tail of the leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F a number of times but failed in any attempts to overtake it. Behind them, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R had managed to get past the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S RC F as its pace slowed and now joined the battle for the lead in 3rd position. Finally, after managing to get past the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R on the 60th lap, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R kept its momentum going and passed the leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F on the straight of the 62nd lap. This put the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R and its 23-year-old second-year GT500 driver Sasaki in the lead for the first time in the race.
To everyone it must have looked as if the race would end with these three machines on the podium, but in fact one more upset was waiting to unfold. The No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira) that had fallen back virtually to the back of the pack soon after the start had switched to a successful strategy of making an early pit stop. While the eyes of the fans were all on the exciting battles between the leaders, few had noticed De Oliveira's blazing charge toward the front. Before they realized it, car No. 12 was within shooting range of a spot on the podium. De Oliveira's pace never slowed as he closed in on the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R. At the Dunlop Corner of the final lap of the race, De Oliveira succeeded in passing the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R to get a podium finish with 3rd place.
For the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R of the KONDO RACING team, this was the first victory since the opening round of the 2010 season at Suzuka. For Sasaki it was a joyous first win, and for Krumm it was his 6th career GT win and his first since 2004.
Photos Courtesy of SuperGT