SUPER GT Round 6 Suzuka: race result
The SUBARU BRZ GT300 achieves its first victory of the year
SUPER GT Round 6 - the ‘45th International Suzuka 1000km’ took place on Sunday 28, August at Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan. The SUBARU BRZ GT300, driven by Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi, started from 4th on the grid before winning the race in the GT300 class. Following back-to-back third place podium finishes in Round 4 at Sportsland SUGO in Miyagi and Round 5 in Fuji Speedway in Shizuka, the team finally celebrated their first victory of the season in a jubilant mood.
Pit-stop tactics worked perfectly along with good performance
On Sunday the 28th it was raining heavily from time to time at Suzuka Circuit and so the final race was expected to be run in difficult conditions. Even though the rain eased off slightly towards noon, the track was still wet when the cars were moved onto the grid for the 12:30 start. Thus the team could not make up their minds on tire choice until right before the start. However, after much deliberation, they changed the tires on the grid, and the SUBARU BRZ GT300 started off on slicks. Behind the wheel of the SUBARU, Yamauchi moved up to 2nd place, passing 2 cars on the first lap as he continued to perform well.
Yamauchi held onto 2nd position and came back to the pit for the first time after 25 laps. After refuelling and a tire change, the team sent Iguchi back on track. Unfortunately, Iguchi was hit by another car on his out-lap and lost control of his car in a spin. Luckily the car did not sustain any damage, but Iguchi fell down the field to 20th where he fought back. He said later that he had almost given up, but was persistent and battled his way back up to 6th. He withstood the rain and passed the car over to Yamauchi after 53 laps. This time, the team tactically decided not to change the front tires to shorten their pit stop.
Yamauchi then continued to steadily run lap after lap without slowing down, eventually moving up to 3rd before passing the car back to Iguchi after 80 laps. Right after the handover, the safety car interrupted the race and the wide gaps between cars closed. As the safety car left the track, Iguchi moved up the field and managed to take the lead after 102 laps while other competitors had to make pit stops one after another.
After 108 laps, the team decided to make their 4th pit stop. To squeeze more of a margin over the rest of the field, they replaced only the rear tires again. Taking back the car from Iguchi, fellow driver Yamauchi got back on the track in 4th. At this point, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 had made one more pit stop than other cars, which meant that it had accumulated a wide enough gap to be technically in the lead. On the track, Yamauchi regained the top position and gave over the car to Iguchi after 133 laps. As he returned to the race in 3rd, Iguchi gave a controlled drive and finally climbed to 1st place after 147 laps. Although he was forced to be cautious in the rain towards the end, he brought the SUBARU BRZ GT300 home without any problems and a big crowd celebrated the team’s first win of this season.
Both the team and drivers are now at the top of the rankings
For Yamauchi who drove at the start, this is the first SUPER GT win. He looked back at the race and said, “After the start, I moved up to 2nd, but after that I only managed to keep up with the speed of the #18 car at the top. However, I did not give up and concentrated on pushing. As a result, we were able to win the race and I am happy. I think that our strategy to only change 2 tires worked well. I would like to thank my fellow driver Iguchi, as well as everyone at the team and the fans. I will look to gain more good points as we have done, in the next event in Thailand and the final event in Twin Ring Motegi and ultimately, I aim to become the champion”.
“Yamauchi created a very good flow from the start. I almost gave up when I took over the car and another car hit me but with no damage to the car, I was able to drive at a good pace. It was significant that I was able to move up positions partially due to lucky timings such as with the safety car. I believe that this result represents perfect work from the team and faultless driving from the drivers. I am happy to win at Suzuka for the first time since 2013”, said a smiling Iguchi.
With a bright grin in his face, General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi commented after the race, “With all those goings on in the race, we were able to have a relatively good race. It was not interrupted by the safety car so much either. Without the strategy to only change the 2 rear tires, we would not have won. Both the team and drivers did a good job”.
The next stop for SUPER GT is round 7, which will be held on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9, October at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. With the momentum after their first victory of the season, the team will try to put in a good performance with the SUBARU BRZ GT300, while looking to secure a consecutive win in order to live up to fans expectations. *The rankings are provisional as of 28 August.