Race leading #12 Calsonic IMPUL GT-R finishes 3rd after dramatic last lap
Held under crisp, clear autumn skies, round 7 of the SUPER GT held at Twin Ring Motegi saw some exciting race action and a well-earned, if not slightly heartbreaking 3rd place finish for the #12 Calsonic IMPUL GT-R.
A fierce battle for position on the first lap resulted in the front row starting #24 GT-R dropping down to 5th place, while the #12 GT-R driven by Nobuharu Matsushita rose to 2nd. The #23 GT-R driven by Ronnie Quintarelli dropped to 12th after going slightly off course, while the #3 GT-R overtook several cars and rounded out the first lap in 9th. Unfortunately, on lap 11, the #3 GT-R was rear-ended and suffered severe damage to the rear section, forcing an emergency pit stop where the time taken to make repairs left them leaving the pits in 15th place, 4 laps down. As for the #12 GT-R, it passed the race leader at the 2nd corner on the 21st lap to take the race lead and began to pull away from the rest of the field at a blistering pace.
On lap 24, the leading #12 GT-R, the #24 GT-R in 5th, and the #23 GT-R in 10th carried out their routine pits and by lap 31, when all GT500 cars had finished their stops, the #12 GT-R was still in the top position, the #24 GT-R in 6th, and the #23 GT-R in 9th. Unfortunately, the #23 GT-R experienced engine trouble on the 41st lap and was forced to make an emergency pit stop. Although able to be repaired, the #23 returned to the race 5 laps down and in 15th position.
Towards the closing stages, the leading #12 GT-R could see the rest of the field closing in, and with 15 laps remaining, the gap had reduced to less than a second. Behind the wheel of the #12 GT-R, Kazuki Hiramine defended their position as the race entered the final lap but, tragically, he ran low on gas at the 3rd corner and was forced to reduce his pace. This saw him relinquish the top position and then finally be passed one more time just before the finish line to finish in 3rd place. The #24 GT-R completed the race in 7th after a fierce battle for position, while the #3 GT-R finished in 14th and the #23 GT-R in 15th.
It was a somewhat bitter finish for the GT500 class GT-Rs, but having led for the majority of the race and achieving another podium finish, the competitiveness of the Nissans was unmistakable. Following the race Hiramine stated, “Right up until the last lap, everything was 100%, perfect, so I'm disappointed with how it ended. However, everyone on the team worked so hard to get this result, so I must look at this as an important experience. I will be going all out in the final round.”
In the GT300 class, five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3s competed and the #56 Realize Nissan GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami / Joao Paulo de Oliveira) fought up from a 7th place grid position to finish on the podium in 3rd place. They will now be fighting for their second consecutive class title from second in the point rankings.
The final round of the SUPER GT will be held from November 27th to 28th at Fuji Speedway.