Heikki Kovalainen and Kohei Hirate are 2016 Super GT champions
Heikki Kovalainen and Kohei Hirate are the 2016 Japanese Super GT champions in GT500 class. They defend their lead in the last race at Twin Ring Motegi and bring the first title to the Lexus Team SARD. For the former Formula One driver, this is his maiden title after he entered the competition in 2015. Kohei Hirate is now a double GT500 champion, as he previously won the title in 2013.
In GT300 class, veteran Takeshi Tsuchiya finally clinches his first championship title, after more than twenty years in a competition, driving the #25 Toyota 86 MC for his own team. Tsuchiya’s partner was Takamitsu Matsui. They won the final race at Motegi to confirm their domination in the 2016 season, in which they won two races and scored four podiums.
Perfect qualifying lap and perfect race for maiden teams’ title
Kovalainen and Hirate came to the last round with three-point advantage over the second-placed crew, the double champions Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli. The #39 Lexus RC F was fastest in a qualifying, with Hirate at the wheel. It increased their lead to four points. In the race, the Finnish-Japanese pair made no mistakes and crossed the finish line as the winners, for the first time this season, to take the maiden title for their team.
Andrea Caldarelli and Kazuya Oshima (#6 Wako’s Lexus) finished second, ahead of Yuji Kunimoto and Yuhi Sekiguchi (#19 WedsSport Lexus). The second-place finish put Oshima and Caldarelli to the second place in the championship classification, 13 points behind new champions. Matsuda and Quintarelli have to be satisfied with the third-place finish.
Dominant victory for VivaC Tsuchiya #25 Toyota
In GT300 class, Tsuchiya and Matsui made the same as Kovalainen and Hirate in the premier class, winning the 53-lap race to confirm the championship lead and take the title. They started sixth on the grid. The podium was completed by Yuichi Nakayama/Koki Saga (#31 apr Toyota Prius) and Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka (#4 Goodsmile Mercedes).
The second-place finish in the final race promoted Koki Saga and Yuichi Nakayama from the sixth to the second place in the championship standings. The winners of yesterday’s race, Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii, are third in the championship, after finishing fourth in today’s race.