Phenomenal comeback sees second season win for MOTUL AUTECH GT-R.
It was a result few could have predicted at Suzuka Circuit this weekend. Having started from the tail end due to a mishap in qualifying, a tough slog seemed on the cards for the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli. So, when some impeccable pit stop timing at the mid-point of the race saw them leave the pits in the top spot, more than a few jaws hit the floor.
Until that point most watching surely felt that the top finishing Nissan would be the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R of Daiki Sasaki and Kazuki Hiramine. Sasaki displayed blistering pace straight out his 4th placed grid position, overtaking the #19 GR Supra in lap 5 and then passing the #64 NSX-GT in lap 12 to move into 2nd before closing in on the race-leading #8 NSX-GT.
Later, rapid pit work saw the #12 GT-R’s Hiramine head back out onto the course in the lead. However, while all eyes were focused on the #12 GT-R as it valiantly fought back the #8 NSX-GT to its rear, a GT300 class car crashed into the tire barrier. It was in this instant that the #23 GT-R’s Quintarelli headed into the pits, moments before the safety car (SC) was dispatched and the pit lane was closed. This phenomenal timing allowed Matsuda to take the wheel and head back out onto the track in the race lead.
Having achieved what will probably go down as the comeback of the season, there was no longer any catching the #23 GT-R. Matsuda firmly held onto the race lead for the rest of the race and passed the finish line to take the team’s second victory of the season. Quintarelli reflected on the moment it all changed, “I was told over the radio to head into the pits just after 130R corner and I only just managed to enter pit lane before the SC was dispatched. After handing the car over to Matsuda I didn’t really know what had happened, but the team were all cheering and when I looked at the monitor, I was stunned to see that we were in the lead. It was absolutely perfect timing.”
As for the #12 GT-R, Hiramine fought off some strong challenges from the #8 NSX-GT in the closing stages of the race to finish in 2nd and make it a 1-2 finish for the GT-Rs at Suzuka. With the #3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R of Kohei Hirate and Katsumasa Chiyo finishing just outside the podium sphere in 4th and the #24 Realize corporation ADVAN GT-R of Mitsunori Takaboshi and Jann Mardenborough grabbing points with an 8th placed finish, it proved to be a successful weekend for the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500.
The next round of the SUPER GT will be held on November 8 at Twin Ring Motegi, with Matsuda and Quintarelli sitting at 3rd in the driver’s rankings, a mere two points behind the series leaders.