The #8 ARN Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Hiroaki Nagai, Kota Sasaki, and Tsubasa Mekaru drove from pole position to a well-earned victory in Sunday’s 10-hour Fuji Super TEC, the penultimate round of the 2017 Super Taikyu Series.
Starting from pole position, within the first two hours the ARN Racing Ferrari found worthy challengers in the #89 HubAuto Racing Ferrari 488 GT3, and the #777 D’station Porsche 911 GT3-R, as the three cars traded the lead throughout the first half of the race.
After a safety car intervention on lap 112, it was down to the ARN Ferrari and the D’Station Porsche as the main protagonists as the two cars swapped the lead, until, at the six hour mark, the Ferrari came out on top of a side-by-side battle for the win, eventually controlling the race from there.
Behind them, the three Nissan GT-R GT3s lost significant time in the race – the #99 Y’s Distraction GTNET GT-R was first to go, losing an hour in the garage with repairs. A puncture at the 5 hour 30 minute mark cost the #1 ThreeBond Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R two laps, and then with two hours left to go, a suspension issue cost the #3 Endless Advan GT-R over twenty laps in the garage.
Having controlled the second half of the race, the ARN Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 took its second straight victory of the 2017 season, completing 335 laps over 10 hours of racing. The victory extends their lead in the ST-X Championship to 19 points – with a maximum 22 available in the season finale at Okayama International Circuit.
The D’station Porsche, driven by Satoshi Hoshino, Seiji Ara, and Tsubasa Kondo took second place, finishing 65 seconds back of the leaders.
The HubAuto Racing Ferrari was third place on the road – but the team ran afoul of a minimum drive time infraction. Fourth driver Shunsuke Kohno failed to complete at least 2 hours of the race, giving the team a 36-lap penalty and promoting the #1 ThreeBond GT-R of Yuudai Uchida, Tomonobu Fujii & Kazuki Hiramine to third place – and needing a win at Okayama on October 15 to stand any chance of retaining their title.
Victory in the ST-1 class went to the #31 Nissoku Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Katsuhito Ogawa/Masami Kageyama/Ryuichiro Tomita), who finished seventh overall, 17 laps back of the overall winners.
Toyota and Lexus swept the podium in the ST-3 class, led by the #62 Denso Le Beausset Motorsports RC350 (Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama/Kenta Yamashita/Yuya Hiraki), who finished eleventh overall, 11 seconds ahead of the #68 Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave Mark X (Naoki Hattori/Shigekazu Wakisaka/Takayuki Hiranuma) in second.
Third place went to the #39 Advics Tracy Sports RC350 (Yuya Tezuka/Syuji Maejima/Akira Suzuki/Taketoshi Matsui), who are now 15 points back of the Denso RC350 with one round to go in the season.
TOWA INTEC Racing clinched their fifth successive ST-2 class championship by dominating the class, the #59 DAMD Motul Subaru WRX STI (Manabu Osawa/Hitoshi Ogawa/Nobuteru Taniguchi) finishing fourteenth overall and three laps ahead of the next car in the category.
In just their second race of the year, Volkswagen snapped a four-race Honda winning streak in the ST-TCR class, as Adenau Racing’s #10 Racingline Performance Golf TCR of Philippe Devesa, Shogo Mitsuyama, and Juichi Wakisaka took a confident victory with 298 laps completed.
Despite finishing 74 laps down in class with an engine problem, the #98 Modulo Honda Civic TCR (Takuya Kurosawa/Keishi Ishikawa/Hiroki Katoh/Hiroki Yoshida) now have one hand on the inaugural ST-TCR championship, after the #45 Liqui Moly Audi RS3 LMS (Shozo Tagahara/Takuya Shirasaka/Naoto Takeda/Toshihiro Arai) lost three hours during the race and failed to be classified.
The #19 BRP Audi Mie RS3 (Kouichi Okumura/Kei Akiyoshi/Daisuke Yamawaki/Yoshizo Ueno) finished second in class to keep the championship mathematically alive, but with a 21.5 point deficit to the #98 Honda, the championship is now virtually decided.
The ST-4 class victory, and the championship, was decided in dramatic fashion with eight minutes to go. While leading the race, the #93 SKR Engineering Honda S2000 (Yuya Ohta/Masahiro Sasaki/Yusaku Shibata) lost its right-front wheel, giving the lead to the #86 TOM’s Spirit Toyota 86 (Takamitsu Matsui/Naoya Gamou/Sho Tsuboi/Takuto Iguchi).
TOM’s Spirit went on to take the class victory in 22nd overall, their fourth ST-4 class win in a row, and with it they clinched the title with a race in hand.
Mazda’s diesel-powered #37 DXL Aragosta Team NOPRO Mazda Demio (Yutaka Seki/Go Umeda/Kaoru Ijiri) took its first win of the 2017 season in ST-5, while in second, the #88 Murakami Motors Mazda Roadster (Hiroyuki Murakami/Takeshi Wakitani/Masanobu Kato/Keiji Amemiya) clinched the ST-5 title.
Next year, the Fuji Super TEC will step up to become a 24-hour race, as announced on Friday in a press release from Fuji Speedway.
Images courtesy of the Super Taikyu Organisation (STO)