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2013 Super GT: The Season So Far

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Catch Up Coverage

2013 marks the 20th year of the Japan Automobile Federation Super GT Championship, and the last year of the current GT500 regulations – before the switch to common regulations with the DTM in 2014. Both classes (GT300 and GT500) in the ever popular Japanese series are as usual, oozing with quality up and down their respective entry lists.

GT500 will once again put Nissan, Lexus and Honda against each other, with the number of entries this year reaching 16 cars.

SuperGT_wrapup_01aTeam MOLA – running the #1 Nissan GT-R with Satoshi Motoyama and Yuji Sekiguchi at the wheel – looked like the team to beat this year. The ever-consistent squad looking to continue their impressive run in the series, and win their third consecutive GT500 championship.

The #1 car will certainly have a tough fight on its hands though. This year’s biggest threat will likely come from the ever competitive, Lexus Team Zent Cerumo. The #38 Lexus SC430 raced by the team is once again headed by series veteran, Yuji Tachikawa. The 38 year old will be chasing a third series title, after finishing a close second overall in last season’s standings.

Honda’s challenge looked to be very strong this season too with five HSV-010s in for the season. The #100 Raybrig decorated HSV-010 of Team Kunimitsu is looking to have another strong year. Takuya Izawa and the team’s new signing, Takashi Kogure, are most definitely one of the stronger pairings in the series, and will look to further solidify their position as Honda’s top brass entry.

This year’s GT300 class also looks extremely competitive. The number of full season entrants is 32 and includes cars from no fewer than 13 manufacturers.

GT300 is definitely one of, if not the, healthiest of the ‘junior’ GT grids worldwide at the moment, with everything from full GT3 cars like the Audi R8 LMS to silhouette Toyota Prius CRZs battling for the class wins.

SuperGT_wrapup_04a

The fight at the front of the GT300 field this season looks set to be an entertaining season long bout, as the armada of GT3 teams tries to beat Porsche teams that dominated the class last year.

Team Taisan Ken Endless and their #0 Porsche are looking to do the double this season, and win the class once again – but the competition is undoubtedly hot. The all-manga liveried BMW Z4 of Team UKYO and the Nissan GT-R of Team NDDP are in good shape to compete at the very front of this year’s entry, after proving their worth in previous seasons.

SuperGT_wrapup_05aRound One – Okayama

The first round of the 2013 season was held at the tight and twisty Okayama circuit, for a 300KM/81 lap race.

GT500 Pole was won by the #23 Nismo Motul Autech Nissan GT-R, with Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quintarelli at the wheel setting a time of 1:35.373 on the wet track.

The race however was eventually won in dramatic fashion, by the #100 Honda HSV-010 of Izawa and Kogure, bouncing back after last year’s second place finish.

The weather took a turn for the better on the Sunday, leaving the track dry. This however didn’t stop the #32 Epson HSV, which qualified second, from going off the circuit at Turn 1 on the formation lap!

SuperGT_wrapup_06aThe early stage of the race was lead by the #23 GT-R, with a quartet of Honda HSV-010s lagging behind and squabbling over second place.

The #32 Epson Honda struggled for pace in the opening laps and went from second to fifth place during Lap 5.

The #17 Keihin HSV then sat in second spot, with the #18 Weider Modulo DOME Racing HSV third – after manoeuvering  past the the #100 Kunimitsu car in traffic on Lap 16.

The rain however decided to make a comeback and caused the lead GT-R to lose a considerable amount of time when it came on laps 23 and 24. The rain was light and Quintarelli managed to hold the lead, pitting the car on Lap 43 to hand over to Yanagida, who would try to bring it home in the greasy conditions.

After the pit stop cycle the #18 Dome Racing HSV – then driven by Aston Martin Racing star Fred Makowiecki – would sit in second, with the #17 Keihin car third. Makowiecki would struggle to hold his position, though, during the closing stages of the race.

SuperGT_wrapup_07a

The battle for second place re-resumed after Lap 60, and saw a storming drive from the #100 Honda of Takashi Kogure, which then sat third. A trio of HSVs (#18, #100 & #17) this time were running nose to tail and closing the gap on the leader.

Kogure’s performance was just superb, as he climbed the standings in spectacular fashion. He was helped, however, by the #18 Dome Racing car spinning at the Atwood Curve on Lap 68, handing him second place overall.

The two Hondas then slowly caught the #23 Motul Nissan up front, with the gap being just two seconds when Yanagida crossed the start line with ten laps remaining.

Yanagida proved no match for the two Hondas and couldn’t defend the lead until the end. Kogure forced his way through, banging doors with Yanagida at the double hairpin and Mike Knight corner to take the lead on Lap 77. The #17 of Koudai Tsukakoshi then took an opportunistic dive down the inside of the #23, making it three-abreast for a brief moment, as he took second place.

Tsukakoshi couldn’t equal Kogure’s stellar pace, though, and followed him to the line, making it a surprise Honda 1-2.

“I came to Team Kunimitsu this season, but this is actually the first time I have changed teams since coming to SUPER GT – everything has been new for me.” Kogure Said. “But they have put together a team that can aim for the championship title. But, we can’t sit on our laurels now, because this is going to be the last season for the HSV-010 GT, I want to win the title and pay back everyone around me for their great efforts.”

GT300 was not such a close battle for the lead like the GT500 class, and was won in dominant fashion by the #11 Gainer Dixel Mercedes SLS. The rapid duo of Katsuyk Hiranaka and Bjorn Wirdheim at the wheel drove a textbook race.

The #61 R&D Sport Subaru BRZ of TetsuyaYamano and Kota Sasaki took pole position, but struggled in the dry conditions and  fell to fourth position in the first couple of laps.

SuperGT_wrapup_10a

SuperGT_wrapup_11aThe #3 NDDP Nissan GT-R and the #11 Dixel SLS then battled for the lead, but the Nissan couldn’t break away and was overtaken by the SLS of Wirdheim – which would be without any trouble till the end.

The #87 JLOC Lamborghini then added insult to injury and got past the NDDP Nissan for second place. At that point, though, the SLS had opened up a gap of over 20 seconds, which the Gallardo couldn’t reduce after the pit-stop cycle.

The Gallardo then lost second later in the race, to the hard charging #4 GSR&Studie with Team UKYO BMW Z4 with Nobuteru Taniguchi at the wheel. An early stop would be crucial to their success, with the team running alone for a large portion of the race, pumping in quick times as a result of the gamble.

The SLS cruised to victory, scoring the second consecutive victory at Okayama for the Gainer team and the first ever win for the Mercedes SLS in the GT300 class.

“In the official practice on Saturday, I could feel that we had a fast package and that increased my confidence,” said Wirdheim. “So, I’m really glad we won.”

GT500 Race 1 Result
Pos.
No
Team
Driver
Time
Laps
Best
1
100
RAYBRIG HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Takuya Izawa
Takashi Kogure
1:58’48.911
81
1’24.173
2
17
KEIHIN HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Koudai Tsukakoshi
Toshihiro Kaneishi
0.555
81
1’24.168
3
23
MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Masataka Yanagida
Ronnie Quintarelli
4.903
81
1’24.274
4
38
ZENT CERUMO SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Yuji Tachikawa
Kohei Hirate
11.534
81
1’24.603
5
18
Weider Modulo HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Naoki Yamamoto
Frederic Makowiecki
12.612
81
1’24.057
6
12
CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Tsugio Matsuda
J.P. Lima De Oliveira
50.496
81
1’24.560
7
6
ENEOS SUSTINA SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Kazuya Oshima
Yuji Kunimoto
54.294
81
1’24.093
8
39
DENSO KOBELCO SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Juichi Wakisaka
Hiroaki Ishiura
1’11.663
81
1’25.030
9
8
ARTA HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Ralph Firman
Kosuke Matsuura
1’29.527
81
1’23.802
10
1
REITO MOLA GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Satoshi Motoyama
Yuhi Sekiguchi
1’30.704
81
1’25.335
11
32
Epson HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Ryo Michigami
Daisuke Nakajima
1’32.049
81
1’25.566
12
36
PETRONAS TOM’S SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Kazuki Nakajima
James Rossiter
1 Lap
80
1’24.952
13
24
D’station ADVAN GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Hironobu Yasuda
Michael Krumm
1 Lap
80
1’25.555
14
19
WedsSport ADVAN SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Seiji Ara
Andre Couto
1 Lap
80
1’25.633
15
37
KeePer TOM’S SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Daisuke Ito
Andrea Caldarelli
2Laps
79
1’24.836

[sws_divider_small_padding].

GT300 Race 1 Result
Pos.
No
Team
Driver
Time
Laps
Best
1
11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS Mercedes-Benz
SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Katsuyuki Hiranaka
Bjorn Wirdheim
1:59’57.178 77 1’29.612
2
4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW
BMW Z4 GT3 / P65B44
Nobuteru Taniguchi
Tatsuya Kataoka
11.036 77 1’29.902
3
87 LA SEINE LAMBORGHINI GT3
GALLARDO GT3 / CEH
Hideki Yamauchi
Hiroki Yoshimoto
1 Lap 76 1’29.757
4
52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Hironori Takeuchi
Takeshi Tsuchiya
1 Lap 76 1’30.678
5
61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
SUBARU BRZ GT300 / EJ20
Tetsuya Yamano
Kota Sasaki
1 Lap 76 1’29.718
6
62 LEON SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Haruki Kurosawa
Masanobu Kato
1 Lap 76 1’30.778
7
16 MUGEN CR-Z GT
Honda CR-Z / J35A
Hideki Mutoh
Yuhki Nakayama
1 Lap 76 1’30.670
8
33 HANKOOK PORSCHE
PORSCHE 911 GT3 R / M97/79
Masami Kageyama
Tomonobu Fujii
2 Laps 75 1’30.628
9
48 DIJON Racing IS GT-R
NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 / VR38DETT
Hiroshi Takamori
Katsumasa Chiyo
2 Laps 75 1’30.614
10
0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE
PORSCHE / M97/79
Kyosuke Mineo
Naoki Yokomizo
2 Laps 75 1’31.008
11
86 CRYSTAL CROCO LAMBORGHINI GT3
GALLARDO GT3 / CEH
Kouji Yamanishi
Shinya Hosokawa
2 Laps 75 1’31.468
12
55 ARTA CR-Z GT
Honda CR-Z / J35A
Shinichi Takagi
Takashi Kobayashi
2 Laps 75 1’30.677
13
7 OGT Bonds Racing GT-R NISSAN
GT-R NISMO GT3 / VR38DETT
Igor Sushko
Ryo Orime
2 Laps 75 1’31.948
14
30 IWASAKI apr R8
Audi R8-LMS ultra / CJJ
Yuki Iwasaki
Fairuz Fauzy
2 Laps 75 1’32.012
15
10 GAINER Rn-SPORTS DIXCEL SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Tetsuya Tanaka
Masayuki Ueda
3 Laps 74 1’30.959
16 21 ZENT Audi R8 LMS ultra
Audi R8-LMS ultra / CJJ
Akihiro Tsuzuki
Richard Lyons
3 Laps 74 1’32.185
17 5 MACH GoGoGo SYAKEN Ferrari 458
Ferrari 458 GT3 / F142
Tetsuji Tamanaka
Junichiro Yamashita
3 Laps 74 1’33.202
18 360 RUN UP GROUP GT-R
NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 / VR38DETT
Takuya Shirasaka
Atsushi Tanaka
4 Laps 73 1’32.969
19 9 NAC KOUKAKUKIDOUTAI ARISE DR PORSCHE
PORSCHE 911 GT3 R / M97/79
Shogo Mitsuyama
Yu Yokomaku
10 Laps 67 1’31.697
20 50 Exe Aston Martin
Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 / V12
Masaki Kano
Hideto Yasuoka
20 Laps 57 1’31.120

[sws_divider_small_padding]Round Two – Fuji Speedway

Round 2 of the championship would take the teams East to the Fuji Speedway. This race would be a 500km/110 lap race, providing more of a test for both the cars and drivers.

This time round the #36 Petronas Tom’s  Lexus SC430 of ex-F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima and British endurance specialist James Rossiter would take pole and dominate the race – giving Lexus their first win of the year.

The #36 led the #39 Denso sponsored Lexus Team SARD SC430 out of Turn 1, proving that the flat-out nature of the Fuji circuit suits the Lexus’ far better than Okayama – when they looked positively pedestrian.

There would be further misfortune for the #18 Weider Dome Racing Honda in the opening laps. Contact with the #17 Keihin Racing HSV-010 on Lap 3 would leave both frontrunners at Round 1 damaged and way down the order for the remainder of the race.

The #36 and #39 would then drive into the distance in the first ten laps and thrill the crowd with a monumental scrap through traffic on Lap 10. The Denso car briefly gained the lead, going three-abreast down the pit straight, but would lose the lead and a lot of time at Turn 1 when it was forced wide. This gave the #23 Motul Nissan GT-R a chance to pounce.

Initially it looked like the #23 Motul Nissan would pose a threat to the leading duo on pace, as it ran nose to tail with the #39 car for the next nine laps. The race, however, ended prematurely for the team. The GT-R suffered mechanical issues on Lap 19 and forced Quinterelli  to retire the car.

This made it a Lexus 1,2,3,4,6 at the front – with the only car splitting the armada of SC430’s being the #12 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda and Joao Paulo de Oliveira.

The Lexus’ would further consolidate their position up front later in the race, though. The #37 KeePer Tom’s Lexus would take fifth place from Matsuda in traffic -making it an all-Lexus top five.

By the first round of pit stops, the Denso Lexus had fallen to fourth position, leaving the battle for second between the #6 Eneos SC430 and the #38 Zent SC430. The pair would fight lap after lap before the #6 got boxed in down the pit straight behind a back marker – giving up the second spot on Lap 94.

This released the #38 Zent Lexus, which was lapping faster than the lead #36 car. Fuji ace – Yuji Tachikawa – was in the car at the time and managed to bring the gap down to less than a second by Lap 105. Nakajima, though, would be able to match his pace in the final few laps and keep him at bay, making it a straight run to the flag for the White & Turquoise machine.

“I am so happy that we have won. TOMS is every bit the great team I thought it would be,” said Rossiter. “I came to this team to get wins. For the team it is the first win in some time, and it was also the first win in a while for me personally.”

GT300 was also a very different story from the first round of the season – with the unlikely win coming from the #37 Panasonic Toyota Prius of Morio Nitta and Koki Saga. This would be another landmark victory in the class this year, as the Prius would become the first Hybrid car to win a GT300 race.

The #61 R&D Subaru BRZ once again took pole – but this time lost the lead going into Turn 1 on the first lap, as the #16 Mugen Honda CR-Z driven by Yuki Nakayama dragged past the BRZ. The Subaru would suffer a drivetrain issue shortly after which would add further disappointment to the start of their season.

From that point on the #16 would run off into the distance; but a late tyre stop due to bad vibrations at the front meant the large lead was lost and went instead to the hard charging Prius, which had recovered exceptionally well from an early off.

The CR-Z would however rejoin the race in second by quite a margin, with the #86 CrystalCroco JLOC Lamborghini GT3 in third.

“To tell you the truth, I thought there wouldn’t be much chance of us winning today,” said Morio Nitta. “The CR-Z was so fast that I thought we might end up in second place again like last time, but I was determined to never give up and keep pushing to the end, and then a miracle happened in the latter stages of the race. It feels like I’ve just won the lottery.”

GT500 Race 2 Result
Pos.
No
Team
Driver
Time
Laps
Best
1
36 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Kazuki Nakajima
James Rossiter
2:56’05.647 110 1’33.280
2
38 ZENT CERUMO SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Yuji Tachikawa
Kohei Hirate
3.373 110 1’33.378
3
6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Kazuya Oshima
Yuji Kunimoto
20.075 110 1’33.381
4
39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Juichi Wakisaka
Hiroaki Ishiura
24.320 110 1’33.473
5
12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Tsugio Matsuda
Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira
41.542 110 1’33.355
6
37 KeePer TOM’S SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Daisuke Ito
Andrea Caldarelli
42.964 110 1’33.598
7
100 RAYBRIG HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Takuya Izawa
Takashi Kogure
1’32.512 110 1’33.959
8
8 ARTA HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Ralph Firman
Kosuke Matsuura
1’33.447 110 1’33.937
9
1 REITO MOLA GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Satoshi Motoyama
Yuhi Sekiguchi
1 Lap 109 1’33.804
10
18 Weider Modulo HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Naoki Yamamoto
Frederic Makowiecki
1 Lap 109 1’33.950
11
19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430
LEXUS SC430 / RV8KG
Seiji Ara
Andre Couto
1 Lap 109 1’34.155
12
24 D’station ADVAN GT-R
NISSAN GT-R / VRH34B
Hironobu Yasuda
Michael Krumm
1 Lap 109 1’34.532
13
32 Epson HSV-010
Honda HSV-010 GT / HR10EG
Ryo Michigami
Daisuke Nakajima
2 Laps 108 1’34.654

[sws_divider_small_padding].

GT300 Race 2 Result
Pos.
No
Team
Driver
Time
Laps
Best
1
31 Panasonic apr PRIUS GT
TOYOTA PRIUS / RV8K
Morio Nitta
Koki Saga
2:57’27.210 103 1’39.661
2
16 MUGEN CR-Z GT
Honda CR-Z / J35A
Hideki Mutoh
Yuhki Nakayama
17.403 103 1’39.437
3
86 CRYSTAL CROCO LAMBORGHINI GT3
GALLARDO GT3 / CEH
Kouji Yamanishi Shinya
Hosokawa Yuya Sakamoto
1 Lap 102 1’40.338
4
52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Hironori Takeuchi
Takeshi Tsuchiya
1 Lap 102 1’40.812
5
7 OGT Bonds Racing GT-R
NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 / VR38DETT
Igor Sushko
Yuji Ide
1 Lap 102 1’40.075
6
11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Katsuyuki Hiranaka
Bjorn Wirdheim
1 Lap 102 1’40.681
7
87 LA SEINE LAMBORGHINI GT3
GALLARDO GT3 / CEH
Hideki Yamauchi
Hiroki Yoshimoto
1 Lap 102 1’41.036
8
62 LEON SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Haruki Kurosawa
Masanobu Kato
1 Lap 102 1’40.862
9
4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW
BMW Z4 GT3 / P65B44
Nobuteru Taniguchi
Tatsuya Kataoka
2 Laps 101 1’40.353
10
10 GAINER Rn-SPORTS DIXCEL SLS
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Tetsuya Tanaka
Masayuki Ueda
2 Laps 101 1’41.143
11
48 DIJON Racing IS GT-R
NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 / VR38DETT
Hiroshi Takamori
Katsumasa Chiyo
2 Laps 101 1’39.619
12
88 MonePa LAMBORGHINI GT3
GALLARDO GT3 / CEH
Manabu Orido
Takayuki Aoki
2 Laps 101 1’40.404
13
22 GREENTEC SLS AMG GT3
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 / M159
Hisashi Wada
Masaki Jyonai
2 Laps 101 1’41.073
14
9 NAC KOUKAKUKIDOUTAI ARISE DR PORSCHE
PORSCHE 911 GT3 R / M97/79
Shogo Mitsuyama
Yu Yokomaku
2 Laps 101 1’40.900
15
30 IWASAKI apr R8
Audi R8-LMS ultra / CJJ
Yuki Iwasaki
Fairuz Fauzy
Kenji Kobayashi
3 Laps 100 1’41.130
16 33 HANKOOK PORSCHE
PORSCHE 911 GT3 R / M97/79
Masami Kageyama
Tomonobu Fujii
3 Laps 100 1’40.464
17 5 MACH GoGoGo SYAKEN Ferrari 458
Ferrari 458 GT3 / F142
Tetsuji Tamanaka
Junichiro Yamashita
Naofumi Omoto
4 Laps 99 1’42.708
18 2 EVA RT TEST-01APPLE MP4-12C
McLaren MP4-12C GT3 / M838T
Kazuho Takahashi
Hiroki Katoh
17 Laps 86 1’40.232
19 55 ARTA CR-Z GT
Honda CR-Z / J35A
Shinichi Takagi
Takashi Kobayashi
24 Laps 79 1’39.707
20 0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE
PORSCHE / M97/79
Kyosuke Mineo
Naoki Yokomizo
94 Laps 9 1’40.867

[sws_divider_small_padding]So after two rounds of the 2013 Super GT season the points standings look like this:

G500
Ps.
No
Team
R1
R2
Total
Behind
1

100

Team Kunimitsu

23

7

30

2

38

Lexus Team Zzent Cerumo

11

18

29

-1

3

36

Lexus Team Petronas Tom’s

2

23

25

-5

4

6

Lexus Team LeMans Eneos

7

14

21

-9

5

17

Keihin Real Racing

18

18

-12

6

39

Lexus Team Sard

6

11

17

-13

7

12

Team Impul

8

9

17

-13

8

23

NISMO

14

14

-16

9

18

Weider Modulo Dome Racing

9

3

12

-18

10

8

Autobacs Racing Team Aguri

5

6

11

-19

G300
Ps.
No
Team
R1
R2
Total
Behind
1

11

Gainer

23

8

31

2

16

Team Mugen

7

18

25

-6

3

31

apr

23

23

-8

4

52

Okinawa-IMP Racing with Shift

11

11

22

-9

5

4

GSR & Studie with Team Ukyo

18

3

21

-10

6

87

JLOC

14

7

21

-10

7

86

JLOC

1

14

15

-16

8

62

Leon Racing

8

6

14

-17

9

7

Bonds Racing

1

9

10

-21

10

61

R&D Sport

9

9

-22

[sws_divider_small_padding]Stephen Kilbey