A day of Drama – SuperGT

Published on July 24th, 2009

The Super GT racing extravaganza promises lots of things; fast cars, flamboyant drivers, gorgeous race queens and an abundance of drama on the track.

The fourth round held at Sepang International Circuit, which is the only course outside of the series’ native home in the Land of the Rising Sun, certainly lived up to expectations with a plethora of drama before the starting lights even turned green.

With thoughts of a scorching and blazing race washed away by a slight drizzle just as the furious race machines roared to life to leave the pit lane for the formation lap, the Hasemi Tomica Ebbro GT-R, piloted by Ronnie Quintarelli and Hironobu Yasuda, swept to victory in the GT500 class after pole sitter’s Motul Autech GT-R had to drop to the rear of the field following a problem as it lay await on the grid for the lights to hit green.

As the cars rolled off for the formation lap, the Motul Autech GT-R choked ahead a few feet before coming to halt and thus had to dump its hard earned advantage and was relegated to the rear of the field as the mechanics did their thing to get it going again.

All this drove right into the hands of the Hasemi Tomica Ebbro GT-R as it didn’t need a second invitation to grasp the opportunity and power all the way home to the chequered flag.

The lead did however exchange hands a few times in the heat of the battle but in the end the Hasemi Tomica Ebbro GT-R played its cards right and took victory.

The win was especially memorable for Yasuda as this is his first time fully competing in the GT500 class, having entered round six of the 2007 series as the third driver for the Nismo team but did not get a chance to race.

Yasuda also won the GT300 driver’s championship last year.

Nonetheless, the Motul Autech GT-R did managed to claw its way back to eight position to save some blushes.

Claiming second spot on the podium was the Keihin NSX after its drivers, Toshihiro Kaneishi and Koudai Tsukakoshi, schooled almost the entire field having started from 11 on the grid. Watching the Keihin NSX carved its way through the field up to second spot was a true thrill for any petrolhead.

Tsukakoshi would also savour the win especially more as this is his first time competing in the full GT500 class.

Completing the podium was the Arta NSX after it came up trumps in its dogfight with the Raybrig NSX towards the finish, narrowly snatching third by just five-hundredths of a second.

There was a reason to smile for the home crowd as well with the Petronas Tom’s SC430 coming in sixth to shine some home pride accelerating from the 12th spot at the starting grid.

Now you might be thinking that all the drama was in the premier GT500 class and that the lower GT300 was all drab you’d be dead wrong. In what might be the comeback story of the season, the I.M. Jihan Co. Ltd-Apple Shiden team were thrown to the back of the grid for an infringement having qualified on pole for the GT300 class but yet managed to make quick work of the entire field and claimed victory in its class.

Having claimed pole for the GT300 class, an infringement with the boys in blue of the Super GT led to them starting from the rear.

Not letting that hold them back, the team managed to work their way back to the lead with some precision driving to claim victory.

“We were obviously not very happy having been judged to infringe the rules and being relegated to the rear of the field but thanks to an amazing crew that prepared a great car we managed to launch a comeback and win the class. We couldn’t ask for more today,” said Hiroki Yoshimoto, one half of the I.M. Jihan Co. Ltd-Apple Shiden team, with team mate Hiroki Katoh in full agreement.

Coming in second was the WedsSport IS350 with Manabu ‘Max’ Orido of Best Motoring fame and Tatsuya Kataoka behind the wheel. Completing the podium was another Best Motoring regular, Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi, with Ryo Orime, piloting the M7 Mutiara Motors Amemiya SGC 7 home to third to further widen the smile on the local crowd with Mutiara Motors being a local company as well.

As the racing gear and cars are packed into the containers to head back east for the fifth round at Sportsland Sugo, the driver’s championship standings sees Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira and Seiji Ara of HIS Advan Kondo GT-R leading the pack with 37 points, having picked up six points from their fifth place finish here. Following in second, a mere two points behind is the Petronas Tom’s SC430 team with Jyuichi Wakisaka andAndre Lotterer.

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Leading the driver’s table in the GT300 class are Nobuteru Taniguchi and Ryo Orime of M7 Mutiara Motors Amemiya SGC 7 with 48 points while Max Orido and Tatsuya Kataoka of WedsSport IS350 stay close behind on 44 points. The I.M Jihan Co. Ltd-Apple Shiden team move up to fourth in the table after their victory here at Sepang.

As the fifth round at Sugo is still more than a month away, perhaps the long break in between will help the teams regain their composure and recover from the sweltering heat to become one with their machines in the fight for the Super GT crown as the series returns to its home.

words: Dinesh Appavu  pix: Hazrin Yeob Men Shah, Yusman Saidi, Syawal Ahmad, Dinesh Appavu


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