Super GT Japan: Defending champions win the season-opening race
Defending Japanese GT500 champions Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli started the 2016 Super GT Series season with the victory in the season-opening race at the Okayama International Circuit. The #1 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R, which started third on the grid, wins the race ahead of the #37 KeePer Tom’s Lexus RC F of James Rossiter and Ryo Hirakawa, who earned the pole in the Saturday’s qualifying.
The Nissan’s and Nismo’ stuff had one more reason for celebration, as the #46 GT-R of Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo finished third in the 82-lap race at the 3.7-km circuit. Chiyo was attacking the #37 Lexus during the closing laps of the race but Hirakawa resisted and took the second place.
The #6 Wako’s Lexus RC F of Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli finished fourth, battling against the #12 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R of Hironobu Yasuda and Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira. Three more Lexus crews (#38 Zent Cerumo, #39 Denso Kobelco SARD and #8 au TOM’s) finished the race in the same lap as the winners. The best placed Honda was the #100 Raybrig NSX Concept-GT on tenth place. Fifteen GT500 teams participated in the season-opening race.
1-2 victory for Mercedes in GT300 class
In the GT300 class Haruki Kurosawa and Naoya Gamou scored first Japanese victory for brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT3. The #65 Leon Racing’s car crossed the finish line with 12sec gap ahead of the #4 Goodsmile Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka. The podium with three German cars are completed with the #7 BMW M6 GT3 of Team Studie, driven by Jorg Muller and Seiji Ara.
The #11 Gainer Tanax Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished fourth, ahead of #51 LMcorsa Ferrari 488 GT3. The best placed Japanese car was the #25 VivaC Toyota 86 MC of Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui, who started from pole and finished sixth.
Twenty-seven cars started the race. The #21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS, #0 Gainer Tanax Nissan GT-R GT3, #88 Manepa Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and #10 B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R GT-3 completed top ten positions and scored points. The defending GT300 champion Andre Couto finished eighth.
The second round of the Japanese Super GT Series is scheduled for May 3-4 at Fuji International Speedway.