Autobacs Super GT ‘Round 5 2012′ Suzuka
29 Aug, 2012
The 41st International Pokka 1000km, Round 5 of the 2012 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, took place on the afternoon of August 19 at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture. In the GT500 class, victory went to the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida / Ronnie Quintarelli), while in the GT300 class race the No. 66 triple a vantage GT3 (Hiroki Yoshioto / Kazuki Hoshino) emerged with the win.
With the race distance returned to 1,000 km after a shorter distance last year, the start of the 41st International Pokka 1000km was moved up to 12:30 in the afternoon. Under clear mid-summer skies, the air temperature at the start of the 173-lap race was 32˚ C. and the track surface temperature soared to 50˚ C. At the start there were no big changes in the order of the leading cars, as the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) started well from pole position and led into the first turn, followed by the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Hiroaki Ishiura), the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 (Daisuke Ito) and the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama).
On the fifth lap, however, a series of upsets began as the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Kohei Hirate) running in 8th position spun out at the spoon and lost a full lap. Then on lap nine, the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Loic Duval) suffered a burst right rear tire. Duval made it back to return to the pit but the decision was made to retire from the race. Behinds the leading No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R, No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 and the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430, a 3-way battle for 4th place took shape between the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Koudai Tsukakoshi) and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda).
The fast pace of the leading No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R didn’t slow even after it began to encounter back markers from the seventh and eighth laps, and it gradually extended its lead over the pursuers. In contrast, the competition was growing hotter from 2nd position on down. The first to make a decisive move was the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, which passed the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 on the hairpin of lap 21 to take over 3rd position.
As the track surface temperature climbed to 52˚ C, many of the teams began to be troubled by excessive tire wear and make their first routine pit stops starting from around lap 30. The No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R 30 running in 3rd position made its pit stop on lap 32, followed by the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R on the next lap, where it changed drivers from Quintarelli to Masataka Yanagida. The No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Bjorn Wirdheim), which had climbed to 4th position by this point also made its pit stop on this 33rd lap, followed by the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 on lap 34 and the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 on lap 35.
Things look to be going well for the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Yanagida) by the time all of the teams finished their pit stops after the 37th lap. The pursuing No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Joao Paulo de Oliveira) and No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka) were unable to close the gap on the leader, which was actually growing instead. Then trouble struck Yanagida, as his car hit a GT300 back marker on the Deguna turn of lap 41, forcing his to return to the pit for an emergency stop on lap 43.
This put the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Oliveira) in the lead. Mishaps continued as the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 (Kazuya Oshima) suffered a burst right front tire on the 50th lap, sending it back to the pit and out of the race.
Trouble struck again on the entrance to the chicane of the 59th lap when the No. 8 ARTA HSV-010 (Takashi Kobayashi) collided with the No. 52 GREEN TEC & LEON SLS (Haruki Kurosawa). The No. 52 GREEN TEC & LEON SLS ran off the track and struck the guardrail, which brought out the Safety Car on the 61st lap. The leading No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R took this opportunity to make a pit stopand change drivers to Tsugio Matsuda. This move put the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka) in the lead, but only until it was caught and passed by the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Yanagida) on lap 67 after the Safety Car had left the track.
After a pit stop on lap 76, the steering wheel of the leading No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R was once again in the hands of Quintarelli. In the interim the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Motoyama) had taken the lead, only to suffer a slow puncture on lap 81 that sent it back to the pit. About the same time, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Ishiura) developed drive train trouble near the exit of the pit lane that took it out of the race as well.
These events left the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Tsukakoshi) in the lead until its rear tire burst on the home straight of lap 93. This was followed by an emergency pit stop for the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa) on lap 98 due to a radiator leak that cost a big time loss. The series of upsets seemed to settle down by the 100th lap and the lead order stood firm again with the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R in the lead followed by fellow GT-R machines in the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R and the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R. Trouble struck again on the 158th lap as the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Tsukakoshi) that had climbed to 6th position suffered a big crash on the 130R turn resulting from a burst right rear tire.
This brought out the Safety Car for a second time and allowed the gaps between the competitors to close rapidly once again. Taking this opportunit, the No. 35 KeePer Kraft SC430 (Yuji Kunimoto) made a charge at the leading GT-R machines. Kunimoto managed to pass the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R on lap 165 to move into 3rd position. He then overtook the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R with a bold move on the 130R turn of the 167th lap to claim 2nd position. Behind Kunimoto, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Wirdheim) also made a move and overtook the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R on the first turn of lap 170 to take 3rd position. This action kept the spectators on the edge of their seats right down to the last laps of the spectacular 1,000 km race. But, in the end the winner was the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R, showing it had speed to spare with a succession of fastest laps in the final stages of the race. This impressive pole-to-win performance made up for the team’s disappointing loss here last year, while bringing its much-awaited first win of the season. Following the No. 35 KeePer Kraft SC430 and No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R in 2nd and third places came the No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R in 4th and the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R in 5th. Finishing 6th was the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430. As many of the top teams in the season ranking fell by the wayside in this tough race, the point-leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 held on to finish 9th and barely hold on to its lead in the ranking.