Autobacs Super GT ‘Round 8 2012′ Motegi
12 Nov, 2012
The MOTEGI GT 250km RACE, Round 8 of the 2012 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, took place at the Twin Ring Motegi (Tochigi Pref.) on Oct. 28. In the GT500 class race the winner was the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 driven by Yuji Tachikawa and Kohei Hirate. In the GT300 class, the winner was the No.911 ENDLESS TAISAN 911 driven by Kyosuke Mineo and Naoki Yokomizo. This victory brought the Mineo/Yokomizo team the GT300 Drivers championship title. The championship title for the GT500 class was already clinched by the No.1 S Road REITO MOLA GT team in the previous round.
The 8-minute warm-up run before the start began in drizzling rain at 12:55 in the afternoon, but by the time the start drew near at 2:00 there was a lull in the rain. But, the track was still wet, making for difficult tire choices for all the teams, and in the end the 53-lap race had to be started behind the Safety Car.
After two laps behind the Safety Car the real racing started from lap three. The pole-sitting No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Kohei Hirate) got the hole shot and led the field through the first turn, but the 2nd-place starter, the No.6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 (Daisuke Ito), spun out on the 90-degree turn of this lap and dropped to 14th position. This put the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm) in 2nd place chased by the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Ito) and the No. 18 weider HSV-010 (Carlo Van Dam).
Hirate in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 began to stretch out the 2.7-second lead he took in the first lap. In contrast, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R in 2nd and the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 in 3rd that should have been chasing No. 38 were struggling to pick up the pace. But, on the third lap the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) running in 5th place began to close the gap on these two machines and managed to pass the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 on the 90-degree turn of lap six and then the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R on the first turn of lap 10 to move into 2nd position. After that, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 (Andre Couto) that was gradually coming forward after initially losing several places in the early going caught and passed the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R on lap 11 to move into 3rd place.
Meanwhile, the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R beat off pressure from the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 behind is and began to eat away at what at one point had been a 7-second lead by the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 in front. When the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R and No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 made early pit stops on the 20th lap the gap between leaders was down to 2 seconds. Behind the 3rd-place No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 the No. 32 EPSON HSV-010 (Ryo Michigami) that had been working up from the last spot on the grid was closing in. In this way, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 on Bridgestone tire was being chased by cars on Michelin, Yokohama and Dunlop tires.
However, Hirate in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 was also driving relentlessly and holding the gap with No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R in 2nd at around 2 seconds as the race reached the midway point on lap 27. With this situation, the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R made its pit stop on lap 33 before the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430. Without changing tires the driver switch was made from Quintarelli to Masataka Yanagida.
On lap 35 the leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 made its pit stop and also opted for no tire change while turning over the wheel from Hirate to Tachikawa. No. 38 made it back into the race without giving up the lead. On the same 35th lap the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 also made its pit stop with no tire change, switching drivers from Hiroaki Ishiura to Juichi Wakisaka. This strategy worked and No. 39 was able to get back into the race in front of the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 that had made its pit stop on lap 34 and changed all four tires. This reversal moved No. 39 into 3rd position.
As the rain fell somewhat heavier in the latter half of the race and the leaders came up behind back-markers, the gap between the leading No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 and the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R was down to less than one second. This battle for the lead continued into the last lap, and there, with the hopes of Bridgestone riding on his shoulders, Tachikawa managed to hold off Yanagida and take the checkered still in first place for the win. For the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 it was the second win of the season, following their victory in the opening round.
Although they missed the win, the No. 1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R showed their championship strength by finishing a close 2nd and winning a total of 93 series points, more than their winning total in 2011. The No. 32 EPSON HSV-010 (Yuhki Nakayama) managed to finish 3rd and give the team its second consecutive podium finish by beating out the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC4303 that had run off the track on lap 44. This put the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430in 4th place followed by the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 in 5th and the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R in 6th.
The rain would be the determining point in the hot battles between the car makers and tire makers in this final round of the 2012 season. After the end of the race, all of the drivers gathered in front of the grandstand for a grand finale for the 2012 series. All that remains of the season now is the JAF Grand Prix to be run at Fuji Speedway from November 16 to 18.
The GT300 class race started with the fleeing pole starter, the No. 33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Masami Kageyama), being chased by the No. 911 ENDLESSTAISAN 911 (Naoki Yokomizo) right on its tail. Unable to pick up the pace, the HANKOOK PORSCHE finally gave up the lead to the ENDLESSTAISAN 911 at the hairpin of lap eight. Perhaps something in the machine or the tires didn’t fit the race conditions, because the HANKOOK PORSCHE continued to be passed, first by the No. 87 JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Koji Yamauchi) and then by the No. 88 ManePa LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Takayuki Aoki) and the No. 0 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW (Tatsuya Kataoka), emerging from the early stages of the race in 7th position with its championship hopes dimming.
Having overcome the machine trouble that had forced it to start from the very back of the grid, the No. 66 triple a vantage GT3 (Kazuki Hoshino) was charging ferociously through the pack, and by the 13th lap it was closing in on the HANKOOK PORSCHE from 8th position. Then Hoshino passed the HANKOOK PORSCHE and power on with hopes of an even bigger upset.
While its rival struggled through the touch conditions, the leading ENDLESS TAISAN 911 was running very steadily and keeping a 4- to 2-second lead over the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 in 2nd place. Considering the point gap in the series standings with its two title rivals, the HANKOOK PORSCHE and the triple a vantage GT3, the ENDLESS TAISAN 911 almost certainly needed to win this race to take the season championship, and things seemed to be going that way.
When al the lead teams had completed their routine pit stops, the No. 911 ENDLESS TAISAN 911 (Kyosuke Mineo) held the lead by 4 to 5 seconds over the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Hideki Yamauchi). Another 10 seconds behind them the ManePa LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido) and the GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW (Nobuteru Taniguchi) were locked in a tail-to-nose battle. These two machines had stages a similar duel between Aoki and Kataoka in the first half of the race.
During the second half of the race, the triple a vantage GT3 (Hiroki Yoshimoto) continued its desperate charge to the try and catch the leaders, but over-anxiousness seemed to be the cause of a pit road speed violation that gave Yoshimoto a costly drive-threw penalty. This dropped him back from a tentative 6th place back to 7th. With the difficulty of passing the No. 3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) in front of him, Yoshimoto's gap with the leading ENDLESS TAISAN 911 had expanded to more than 37 seconds. As for the HANKOOK PORSCHE (Tomonobu Fujii), its pace failed to improve and Fujii had to settle for running behind the triple a vantage GT3, which meant that the HANKOOK PORSCHE's title chances now rested on the performance of the ENDLESS TAISAN 911.
With Mineo now at the wheel and driving steadily, the 911 ENDLESS TAISAN had been keeping the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 at bay, but as Mineo ran up behind back-markers in the final few laps the Lamborghini was able to close to within less than a second of the leader. On the last lap the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 had its nose right on Mineo's tail at one point, making the situation very tense. At this point, the triple a vantage GT3 was running in 5th position and the HANKOOK PORSCHE in 7th, so the ENDLESS TAISAN 911 would win the championship even with a 2nd-place finish. All would be lost, however, if Mineo tried too hard to block the Lamborghini and ended up getting knocked out of the race. But, Mineo wasn't ready to give up on the win, so he fought on. He managed to cross the goal line first with the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 just 0.735 seconds astern.
For the ENDLESSTAISAN 911 this was their first win of the season, and it brought them the 2012 Drivers and Team championship titles as well. Second place went to the JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3, while 3rd went to the ManePa LAMBORGHINI GT3, which managed to hold off the GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW.
For Yokomizo it was his third GT300 class win (one in GT500), and for Mineo it was his first. It was also the first win of the season for the team, but the third for the Porsche 911, making it the car make with the most wins this season in GT300. For both Mineo and Yokomizo this is their first SUPER GT title. For Team TAISAN it is their seventh GT300 team title (one in GT500) and their first since 2003.