#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R races to 3rd step on the podium
#3 GT-R finishes 4th after phenomenal fightback from 15th on the grid.
It was an action-packed SUPER GT race held at Autopolis this weekend, with several crashes and dispatches of the safety car, but at the end of the tumultuous clash the GT-Rs came away with a podium finish and two more top ten finishes.
At the start, the #23 GT-R driven by Ronnie Quintarelli maintained its starting position in 5th while the #3 GT-R driven by Katsumasa Chiyo moved up to 12th. With three cars in the GT500 class heading into the pits due to penalties, by lap 10 the #23 GT-R was in 4th, the #12 GT-R in 7th, the #3 GT-R in 10th, and the #24 GT-R in 11th.
An early race crash saw a safety car run after which the race leader stopped on the side of the course due to technical issues and this moved the GT-Rs up one position each. On lap 19 the #3 GT-R, which was fiercely vying for position, overtook two cars and moved up to 7th. The hectic first half of the race saw another crash and safety car run before the GT500 class cars began to head into the pits. As the race entered its second half the #23 GT-R was in 5th, the #12 GT-R 6th, the #24 GT-R 7th, and the #3 GT-R in 12th.
The #23 GT-R continued to wrestle in a fierce three-way battle for 3rd place and on lap 45 passed the car in front to move up to 4th. The battle for position continued, and on lap 53, the #23 GT-R jumped to 3rd, only to be back in 4th again as the skirmish progressed and the race entered the final stages. In the latter half of the race, the #3 GT-R further increased its pace and gradually closed in. It moved up to 11th on lap 46, 10th on lap 47, 9th on lap 48, and 8th on lap 50, before further reducing the gap with the top group.
The #23 GT-R also gallantly continued to fight hard and overtook its rival at the 2nd hairpin on lap 58, to again move up to 3rd position. The #3 GT-R showed no signs of slowing and passed more rivals on the 57th, 61st, and 63rd laps to move up to 5th position, then, on the final lap at the 1st corner, overtook yet one more machine to grab 4th position.
At the end of the 65-lap race, the #23 GT-R finished 3rd, the #3 GT-R 4th, and the #12 GT-R finished 7th. This saw the GT-R finished on the podium for the third consecutive race since Suzuka. Unfortunately, the #24 dropped down the order, having had to pit to change tires.
#23 driver Tsugio Matsuda related, “This time, the machine was in good condition right from the start and felt really responsive. Of course, we wanted to win, but our goal this time was to be on the podium, and we were very happy to have achieved that goal.”
Ronnie Quintarelli followed, “Tsugio did a great job, and even though this is a difficult circuit to overtake, he attacked and made up positions. I am happy to get on the podium at Autopolis for the first time in a little while.”
In the GT300 class five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3s competed, and the #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R started from 22nd on the grid, showed some impressive race management, and in the final stages of the race had closed in on its rivals running in 3rd and 4th to be fighting for the podium, before ultimately finishing in a close 5th place.
The next round of the SUPER GT will be held November 7th at Twin Ring Motegi.