Motegi SUPER GT: ARTA wins as Impul runs out of fuel

The ARTA Honda squad scored a second victory of the SUPER GT season in the penultimate round at Motegi, as the Impul Nissan that had been leading dramatically ran out of fuel on the final lap.

The Calsonic-liveried #12 Nissan GT-R shared by Nobuharu Matsushita and Kazuki Hiramine seemed well set for its second victory of 2021, after Matsushita fought his way to the front from fourth on the grid during the opening stint.

Hiramine took over the Impul car for the second stint, but came under increasing pressure from the ARTA Honda of Tomoki Nojiri as the 63-lap contest neared its conclusion.

Just as Hiramine looked like he had done enough to replicate his and Matsushita's win from Sugo in September, he lost momentum exiting Turn 2 on the final lap, allowing Nojiri through into the lead.

From there the way was clear for Nojiri to bring home the #8 ARTA Honda NSX-GT he shares with Nirei Fukuzumi for a second win in a row, vaulting the pair up to second in the drivers' standings.

With the #1 Kunimitsu Honda of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino failing to score, Nojiri and Fukuzumi head to the final round of the season at Fuji Speedway five points adrift of Yamamoto.

Hiramine limped across the line in third, dropping behind the pole-sitting Racing Project Bandoh Toyota GR Supra of Ritomo Miyata and Yuji Kunimoto in the process.

Story of the race

While the Bandoh Toyota of Kunimoto held the lead in the early stages, it was the Impul Nissan of Matsushita that was on the move, with the ex-Formula 2 racer passing Fukuzumi's ARTA Honda and Daiki Sasaki's Kondo Racing Nissan to grab second on the opening lap.

Matsushita settled into second behind Kunimoto for the opening part of the race, with Fukuzumi close behind in third, but began to catch the Yokohama-shod Toyota following the second of two early full-course yellow periods.

On lap 21, Matsushita got a run exiting Turn 2 and managed to go around the outside of Kunimoto to move into the lead, before pitting to hand over the Impul car over to Hiramine on lap 23.

Fukuzumi pitted to give the ARTA Honda to Nojiri at the same time, and the pair rejoined in that order, with the Bandoh Toyota slipping to a net third following its stop on lap 24.

Hiramine appeared comfortable out front, leading Nojiri by as much as four seconds at one stage, but the Super Formula champion was able to close the gap as the race reached its closing stages, and was within a second of the Impul Nissan entering the final few laps.

However, Nojiri was never able to draw close enough to attempt a pass, until Hiramine suddenly slowed on the final lap.

Hiramine was able to nurse the stricken #12 car to the finish after swerving from side to side in a desperate bid to eke the last remaining fuel from the Nissan's tank, but was beaten to the line by Miyata in the Bandoh Toyota by just over a second.

The Mugen Honda shared by Toshiki Oyu and Ukyo Sasahara held fourth for much of the second stint, but Oyu was powerless to hold off the Real Racing Honda of Koudai Tsukakoshi.

Tsukakoshi made the move on lap 53 to score more valuable points and keep himself and teammate Bertrand Baguette, who had started the car, within eight points of the championship lead heading to Fuji.

Sixth went to the Rookie Racing Toyota of Kazuya Oshima and Kenta Yamashita, who scored their first points since Round 2 at Fuji to barely remain in mathematical title contention, followed by the Kondo Nissan of Sasaki and Mitsunori Takaboshi.

Sho Tsuboi and Yuhi Sekiguchi, eighth in the #36 TOM'S GR Supra, remain Toyota's best-placed drivers but face a daunting 16-point deficit to championship leader Yamamoto.

Rounding out the scorers were the #38 Cerumo Toyota of Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa and the #37 TOM'S car of Ryo Hirakawa and Sacha Fenestraz, the latter picking up a drive-through penalty for making contact with the GT300 LEON Racing Mercedes at Turn 10.

The SARD Toyota trailed home in 11th having started sixth in the hands of Heikki Kovalainen, ahead of the Kunimitsu Honda, which was lucky to avoid a penalty when starting driver Makino tipped the Cerumo Toyota of Tachikawa into a spin early on.

Both Michelin-shod Nissans failed to score, with the NISMO car of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda suffering a fuel-related issue and the NDDP/B-Max GT-R of Katsumasa Chiyo and Kohei Hirate taking damage after being rear-ended by Kovalainen in the SARD Toyota.

Hitotsuyama Audi wins in GT300

GT300 honours went to Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS pairing Takuro Shinohara and Shintaro Kawabata, who prior to the Motegi round had not scored a single point all year.

#21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS

#21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Having run fourth early on, Kawabata was among the first of the front-runners to stop, vaulting up second behind the ARTA Honda NSX GT3 of Shinichi Takagi and Ren Sato. Shinohara subsequently passed Sato take the Hitotsuyama squad's first win since last year's Suzuka race.

The ARTA car had inherited second when the pole-sitting UpGarage NSX of Takashi Kobayashi and Teppei Natori suffered what appeared to be terminal engine trouble, before Takagi passed the championship-leading Subaru BRZ of Hideki Yamauchi to lead into the pitstop phase.

Third place went to the Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami, who came from seventh on the grid with a late no-tyre change pitstop.

De Oliveira exited the pits just ahead of Takuto Iguchi's Subaru, which was locked in battle with the #88 JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and was able to hold position until the finish.

A spin for Iguchi in the Subaru dropped he and Yamauchi to sixth, meaning the pair take a reduced six-point lead over de Oliveira and Fujinami into the Fuji finale.

JLOC duo Takashi Kogure and Yuya Motojima were promoted to fourth by Iguchi's error, while Tsuchiya Engineering Porsche pair Kimiya Sato and Takamitsu Matsui were fifth for their best result of the season so far.

GT500 race results:

Pos.

No.

Drivers

Team

Car

Tyre

Gap

1

8

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

ARTA

Honda

B

63 laps

2

19

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Ritomo Miyata 

Racing Project Bandoh

Toyota

Y

18.807

3

12

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

Japan Nobuharu Matsushita

Impul

Nissan

B

19.905

4

17

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

Real Racing

Honda

B

25.939

5

16

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

Japan Toshiki Oyu

Mugen

Honda

D

35.998

6

14

Japan Kazuya Oshima

Japan Kenta Yamashita

Rookie Racing

Toyota

B

36.883

7

24

Japan Mitsunori Takaboshi

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Kondo Racing

Nissan

Y

39.543

8

36

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

Japan Sho Tsuboi

TOM'S

Toyota

B

40.793

9

38

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

Cerumo

Toyota

B

45.631

10

37

Japan Ryo Hirakawa

France Sacha Fenestraz

TOM'S

Toyota

B

46.082

11

39

Finland Heikki Kovalainen

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

SARD

Toyota

B

53.099

12

1

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

Kunimitsu

Honda

B

53.336

13

64

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Hiroki Otsu

Nakajima Racing

Honda

D

1'21.482

14

23

Italy Ronnie Quintarelli

Japan Tsugio Matsuda

NISMO

Nissan

M

4 laps

15

3

Japan Kohei Hirate

Japan Katsumasa Chiyo

NDDP/B-Max Racing

Nissan

M

8 laps
shares
comments
Yokohama aiming to end win drought after front row lockout
Previous article

Yokohama aiming to end win drought after front row lockout

Next article

Impul's Hiramine describes last-lap Motegi heartbreak

Impul's Hiramine describes last-lap Motegi heartbreak
Load comments