December 2, 2020

Motegi Super GT: ARTA wins as Honda locks out top five

Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi finally earned their first victory as a pairing in the #8 ARTA Honda NSX-GT in the penultimate round of the campaign, having failed to convert any of their three pole positions so far this season.

From second on the grid, Nojiri lost four seconds to the pole-sitting Nakajima Racing Honda of Hiroki Otsu in the early laps, but quickly closed back in and passed the Dunlop-shod car to take the lead at the start of lap 10 and 63.

Nojiri proceeded to stretch an advantage of almost 10 seconds over the field before handing over to Fukuzumi at the end of lap 23, becoming the first GT500 runner to pit, with Otsu following in to hand over the Nakajima car to Takuya Izawa.

That proved to be a masterstroke as on the next lap the safety car was deployed to recover the stricken Team Mach Toyota 86 MC.

When the race resumed on lap 28, around half of the remaining GT500 runners headed immediately for the pits, with the rest coming in over the following two tours, giving the ARTA and Nakajima Hondas a lead of over one minute.

From there, it was a straightforward run to victory for Fukuzumi, who brought it home for ARTA’s first victory since last year’s Okayama season opener, while some 46 seconds behind Izawa delivered Nakajima its first podium of the season.

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Completing an all-Honda podium was the #100 Team Kunimitsu car of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino. Prior to the safety car, Makino had been running in second and around eight seconds behind Nojiri, having passed Otsu for the place on lap 12.

On the restart, Makino stayed out for a lap before handing over to Yamamoto, which kept the #100 car clear of the chasing pack.

A similar strategy for the #16 Mugen NSX-GT of Hideki Mutoh and Ukyo Sasahara, which left it an extra lap to come in, propelled Sasahara to fourth, where he would remain to the end.

The battle for fifth took on extra significance as it determined who would head into the season finale leading the standings, and in the end it was the Real Racing Honda of Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi who came through to complete an all-Honda top five.

Tsukakoshi passed the NISMO Nissan of Tsugio Matsuda for the place on lap 48 to put himself and Baguette on a provisional 51 points.

TOM’S Toyota man Ryo Hirakawa – sharing the #37 GR Supra with Kenta Yamashita for the last two races in the absence of Nick Cassidy – followed through for sixth to put himself on the same points tally as the Real Honda pair, but with one win this year to the #17 crew’s two.

Matsuda managed to hang on to seventh in the #23 GT-R he shares with Ronnie Quintarelli and keep Nissan’s title hopes alive, two points behind the Real Honda and level with the #100 Honda of Yamamoto and Makino.

ARTA pair Fukuzumi and Nojiri meanwhile are only three points off the lead, ahead of both the #14 Cerumo Toyota of Sho Tsuboi and Kazuya Oshima and the #36 TOM’S GR Supra of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Sacha Fenestraz, neither of which scored points.

GT300: Kondo Nissan gets second win of 2020

The safety car likewise helped determine the winner of the GT300 class battle, as Kondo Racing pair Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami came through to take their second class victory in three races in their Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

#56 Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3

#56 Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Running fourth early on, Fujinami was among the first drivers in the class to pit, and when the safety car was deployed, de Oliveira found himself promoted to second with only the Goodsmile Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 ahead.

The Brazilian driver caught Nobuteru Taniguchi in the Goodsmile car and finally made an aggressive pass in the final sequence of corners to snatch the lead, earning himself a black-and-white flag in the process, and held on for a narrow win by just over a second.

With the points-leading LEON Racing Mercedes failing to score, it means de Oliveira and Fujinami lead the standings by five points heading into Fuji.

A lap behind the Goodsmile car of Taniguchi and Tetsuya Kataoka, a thrilling battle for the final podium spot was resolved in favour of the Tomei Sports Nissan, as Takayuki Aoki passed the Saitama Toyopet Toyota GR Supra GT300 of Hiroki Yoshida for third.

The title-contending #11 Gainer Nissan finished fifth on the road, but attracted the ire of the stewards as Katsuyuki Hiranaka tipped the pole-sitting Subaru BRZ into a spin late on.

Subaru man Hideki Yamauchi had built up a comfortable lead out front early on, only for the team to be caught out by the safety car for a second race in a row, but Iguchi was running as high as fourth late on before the contact, which demoted the BRZ to sixth.

That became fifth after the Gainer car was given a 30-second post-race penalty, which dropped Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda to ninth – leaving the pair trailing the Kondo Nissan by 13 points with 21 up for grabs in the final round at Fuji.

Ex-Formula 2 driver Nobuharu Matsushita banked three points for eighth place on his SUPER GT debut in the ARTA Honda NSX GT3 he shares with Toshiki Oyu.

GT500 race results:

Pos.  No. Drivers Team/Car   Laps Delay
8

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

ARTA Honda 63
64

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Hiroki Otsu

Nakajima Honda 63 46.238s
100

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

Kunimitsu Honda 63 1m10.630s
16

Japan Hideki Mutoh

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

Mugen Honda

63 1m12.684s
17

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

Real Racing Honda

63 1m19.379s
37

Japan Ryo Hirakawa

Japan Kenta Yamashita

TOM’S Toyota 63 1m27.441s
23

Italy Ronnie Quintarelli

Japan Tsugio Matsuda

NISMO Nissan

63 1m31.659s
39

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

Finland Heikki Kovalainen

SARD Toyota

63 1m33.652s
12

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

Impul Nissan 63 1m35.463s
10  38

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Cerumo Toyota 63 1m35.957s
11  19

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Ritomo Miyata 

Bandoh Toyota 63 1m36.697s
12  14

Japan Kazuya Oshima

Japan Sho Tsuboi 

Cerumo Toyota 63 1m37.226s
13  36

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

France Sacha Fenestraz

TOM’S Toyota 62 1 lap
14  24

United Kingdom Jann Mardenborough

Japan Mitsunori Takaboshi

Kondo Nissan 58 5 laps
15  3

Japan Kohei Hirate

Japan Katsumasa Chiyo

NDDP/B-Max Nissan

45 18 laps

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