Super GT Series: Victory for ARTA in rain-shortened race at Okayama
Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa are the winners of the Super GT Series season-opening race at Okayama International Circuit. The race was red-flagged because of bad weather and the drivers of the #8 ARTA Honda NSX-GT inherited a victory following a post-race penalty for initial winners in the #17 Real Racing Honda.
They were penalized because Koudai Tsukakoshi caused a collision with Naoki Yamamoto in the #1 Honda while fighting for the lead. Tsukakoshi managed to continue the race while Yamamoto stuck on the gravel and dropped a lap down.
Instead of having three Honda crews on the podium, two Nissan crews completed the podium. Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli were second in the #23 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R. Daiki Sasaki and James Rossiter took the third place in the #12 Calsonic Impul Nissan.
Due to wet conditions, the race started behind the Safety car. The green light turned on on lap 4 but the Safety car was soon out again after two cars collided at Turn 1. The race resumed on lap 10 and Naoki Yamamoto was the fastest on the restart, taking the lead from the pole-sitter Ronnie Quintarelli. Koudai Tsukakoshi also made a progress, establishing 1-2 for Honda.
The rain intensified and several GT300 cars crashed out, initiating a red flag. The race was halted for over 45 minutes, resuming behind the Safety car. Takuya Izawa made a decisive move to take P3 from Quintarelli, what later turned to be crucial after the clash of leading Hondas. The weather gets worse and the race was stopped again. Then, it was decided not to restart the race and the results were declared on lap 31, with half-points awarded.
The GT300 class victory went to the #96 K-Tunes Lexus RC F GT3 of Sena Sakaguchi and Morio Nitta. Shinichi Takagi and Nirei Fukuzimi finished second in the #55 ARTA Honda NSX GT3, ahead of Shigekazu Wakisaka and Hiroki Yoshida in the #52 Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave Toyota Mark X MC.
Photos: Super GT,