KeePer TOM'S LC500 No.1 with drivers Ryo HIRAKAWA / Nick CASSIDY achieved victory for the first time this season at the Autobacs Super GT 2018 series at AUTOPOLIS INTERNATIONAL RACING COURSE.
LEXUS LC500 swept the podium for the second time this season, with au TOM’s LC500 No.36 co-piloted by drivers Kazuki NAKAJIMA / Yuhi SEKIGUCHI in second place, followed by WedsSport ADVAN LC500 No.19 with drivers Yuji KUNIMOTO / Kenta YAMASHITA in third place.
K-tunes RC F GT3 No.96 co-piloted by Morio NITTA / Yuichi NAKAYAMA won their second victory for this season.
Ryo HIRAKAWA (KeePer TOM'S LC500 No.1)
Although slightly dissapointed with the qualification, as the rivals were monopolizing top three positions, we didn’t expect to win. We appreciate support from TRD and the tire manufacturer, and the team was able to achieve one-two finish because of everyone’s support, with good decisions for the pit stop timing. When I drove the last stint, we were able to pull ahead of the rivals, then race against No.36, and finally win. We are happy to tie for the championship at the moment, but we need to be careful. As in yesterday’s qualification, and also in other races, the perfomance of the rivals are very high, so if they run ahead of us, it will be a difficult race. But for the final race, our target will be to focus on No.100, and to finish ahead of them. Our car runs well at Twin Ring Motegi, so we would like to race with confidence.
Nick CASSIDY (KeePer TOM'S LC500 No.1)
I feel really greatful for the chance to be in this position. I think we had good perfomance, especially in the races. Thanks to my team TOM’s and TRD and LEXUS for providing us with a great car. During my stint, I had a good pace and I didn’t want to take too much risk. I knew to pass No.100 was important. We were worried about the tire wear, but I could manage to pass No.100. And when I got to No.8 and No.17, obviously we were quicker, but I didn’t want to make any damage or any touching, so I was careful. We had a great strategy and I knew I could give the car to Ryo and he can challenge, so that worked out and I am happy. We had experience last year, going into a tied fight in the last round, so that give’s us confidence. At the same time we know that the rivals perfomance is pretty strong and Twin Ring Motegi is quite difficult to pass. But I am also looking forward for the final race.
Kazuki NAKAJIMA (au TOM'S LC500 No.36)
As in last year, we were confident about achieving a good result in the finals. We expected that the rivals will run ahead of us in the beginning, and to catch up eventually. But we were surprised that soon after the race started, we had strength and were able to catch up soon and overtake. There are two sides for the safety car, one is the tire feeling recovery, and the other is that the created margin has all dissapeared. This is a race, so I understand it’s inevitable. It is the second one-two finish for the teams TOM’s, so we consider it was a good race.
Yuhi SEKIGUCHI (au TOM'S LC500 No.36)
I am happy for the team TOM’s one-two finsh. In the finals, we were expecting a better race than the qualification, but we didn’t expect to go this far. The car itself and the pace was good during the latter stint I drove. In the very end, there was an issue with the traction, but it wasn’t a big problem. We now took third position in the championship, so we will do our best for the final race.
Yuji KUNIMOTO (WedsSport ADVAN LC500 No.19)
Our strategy was to have two pit stops, as the track surface temperature was low, and we considered that all tire manufacturers would face difficulty with the pace. To be honest, we were afraid of just one pit stop. Our strategy was to get into a better position than P10, our grid position, but the safety car came in right after our pit out, so it was fortunate that the gap around 40 seconds was offset. Afterwards, the rivals had their pit in, so we were able to race in a fast pace, as the track cleared out. We had luck, but we are happy with the second podium this year.
Kenta YAMASHITA (WedsSport ADVAN LC500 No.19)
Our engineers came up with a wonderful strategy, so we followed this. The plan was two pit stops, so we started with less fuel to save weight. The tire and fuel situation was as planned and was under control. The second stint was slightly long, so it was tough in the latter part, but the pace was not bad compared to others. It was a good race, which will lead to our next race.
GT500 Class Result
|1||1||KeePer TOM'S LC500||Ryo Hirakawa / Nick Cassidy||65||1:56'02.296||5||47|
|2||36||au TOM'S LC500||Kazuki Nakajima / Yuhi Sekiguchi||65||0.436||4||40|
|3||19||WedsSport ADVAN LC500||Yuji Kunimoto / Kenta Yamashita||65||12.614||10||15|
|4||38||ZENT CERUMO LC500||Yuji Tachikawa / Hiroaki Ishiura||65||21.331||8||36|
|5||100||RAYBRIG NSX-GT||Naoki Yamamoto / Jenson Button||65||21.628||3||61|
|6||17||KEIHIN NSX-GT||Koudai Tsukakoshi / Takashi Kogure||65||32.944||2||40|
|7||24||Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R||Joao Paulo de Oliveira / Mitsunori Takaboshi||65||37.072||13||18|
|8||39||DENSO KOBELCO SARD LC500||Heikki Kovalainen / Kamui Kobayashi||65||45.462||12||36|
|9||6||WAKO'S 4CR LC500||Kazuya Oshima / Felix Rosenqvist||65||48.517||9||34|
|10||64||Epson Modulo NSX-GT||Bertrand Baguette / Kosuke Matsuura||65||1'00.596||7||3|
GT300 Class Result
|1||96||K-tunes RC F GT3||Morio Nitta / Yuichi Nakayama||61||1:56'44.520||10||24|
|2||87||LEGAL FRONTIER LAMBORGHINI GT3||Kimiya Sato / Yuya Motojima||61||17.228||9||6|
|3||34||Modulo KENWOOD NSX GT3||Ryo Michigami / Hiroki Otsu||61||26.403||7||13|
|4||55||ARTA BMW M6 GT3||Shinichi Takagi / Sean Walkinshaw||61||32.652||22||52|
|5||65||LEON CVSTOS AMG||Haruki Kurosawa / Naoya Gamou||61||33.817||12||42|
|6||11||GAINER TANAX GT-R||Katsuyuki Hiranaka / Hironobu Yasuda||61||38.939||15||37|
|7||5||MACH SYAKEN MC86 Y's distraction||Natsu Sakaguchi / Yuya Hiraki||61||41.507||3|
|8||7||D'station Porsche||Tomonobu Fujii / Sven Muller||61||46.262||11||28|
|9||10||GAINER TANAX triple a GT-R||Kazuki Hoshino / Hiroki Yoshida||61||52.218||2||20|
|10||31||TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT||Koki Saga / Kohei Hirate||61||53.254||28||45|
|12||60||SYNTIUM LMcorsa RC F GT3||Hiroki Yoshimoto / Ritomo Miyata||61||59.031||13||23|
|22||35||arto RC F GT3||N.Charoensukhawatana / N.Hortongkum||60||1 Lap||26||-|
|26||30||TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT||Hiroaki Nagai / Manabu Orido||58||3 Laps||19||-|
Drivers Standings (GT500)
|1||100||Naoki Yamamoto / Jenson Button||67|
|2||1||Ryo Hirakawa / Nick Cassidy||67|
|7||38||Yuji Tachikawa / Hiroaki Ishiura||44|
|10||6||Kazuya Oshima / Felix Rosenqvist||36|
|12||19||Yuji Kunimoto / Kenta Yamashita||26|
Team Standings (GT500)
|2||1||LEXUS TEAM KeePer TOM'S||86|
|3||36||LEXUS TEAM au TOM'S||75|
|5||38||LEXUS TEAM ZENT CERUMO||64|
|8||6||LEXUS TEAM LEMANS WAKO'S||57|
|9||39||LEXUS TEAM SARD||56|
|11||19||LEXUS TEAM WedsSport BANDOH||41|
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