Sunday, November 9, 2008

XANAVI NISMO GT-R takes its third win of the season!

On Oct. 19, the SUPER GT IN KYUSHU 300 km, Round 8 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was run at the AUTOPOLIS in Oita Pref. In the GT500 class, the XANAVI NISMO GT-R team (Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) scored a pole-to-checkered victory. In the GT300 class the DAISHIN ADVAN Z (Takayuki Aoki/Tomonobu Fujii) came from second position on the starting grid to win their first race of the season.

The race started at 14.00. At the first turn of he opening lap, the third place qualifier No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval) passed the second qualifier, the No. 1 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman) and moved into 2nd position. While this was happening, the pole-sitting No. 23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Benoit Treluyer) began to pull away, opening up a gap of 2 seconds by the end of the first lap.

After that, Treluyer kept up his blistering pace in No. 23 and widened that gap to more than 4 sec. by the end of lap three.In contrast, Duval, now running in 2nd position in No. 32, was unable to pick up the pace and was eventually passed on lap seven by Firman in car No. 1. This brought the order of the top five back to the original qualifying order.Behind them, No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX (Yuji Ide) had been gradually gaining ground. One after another Ide passed the NO. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Andre Lotterer), the No.35 houzan KRAFT SC430 (Tatsuya Kataoka) and the No.3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) before finally passing the No.18 TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure) on lap 14 to move into 5th position.

On lap 20 the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm) made its pit stop. Making such an early pit stop with less that one third of the race finished sends a buzz around the paddock.. The on the next lap Lotterer pulls No. 36 into the pit as well. Both machines only change their tires and return to the track without refueling or changing drivers.

It seems that the high than expected track temperature is causing the tires to wear faster than expected. This shows that both teams are clearly on a two-pit-stop race plan.No.32 EPSON NSXAmong the other teams, No. 100 also makes an early pit stop at the end of lap 23. But in this case more than one-third of the race distance has been covered, so they are able to change drivers to Shinya Hosokawa and refuel too.

On the next lap No. 1 pulls into the pit. Again they changed drivers (to Takuya Izawa) and refuel. They also change tire but the front tires take unusual time and the length of the pit stop stretches to 50 sec.The leading No. 23 made its pit stop on lap 26. They change drivers to Satoshi Motoyama change tires and refuel in just 28 sec. This gives them a big margin over No. 1.

Later, after all the teams had finished their pit stops, No. 23 is back in the lead with Motoyama at the wheel. In 2nd place is No. 22 (Krumm) and in 3rd is No.36 (Lotterer), but these teams have not yet changed drivers, so it is actually No.32 that is in second position, having changed drivers from Duval to Katsuyuki Hiranaka on lap 30.

However, it is now nearly 30 sec. behind No. 23.No.1 ARTA NSXLater, after No. 36 changes drivers (Lotterer > Juichi Wakisaka) on lap 42 and No. 22 changes (Krumm > Masataka Yanagida) on lap 43, the order of the top three is No. 23 (Motoyama), No.32 (Hiranaka) and No. 1 (Izawa). But No.1 Izawa spins out while running alone just before the last curve of lap 47, leaving No. 100 (Hosokawa) to move into 3rd position.

But the drama wasn’t over yet. With ten laps remaining No. 100 (Hosokawa) collides with the GT300 class machine No. 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC 408R as it is competing for the lead. For this Hosokawa is given a drive-through penalty that drops him back to 4th position again.
This puts Izawa in No.1 back in 3rd position, but his tires seem to be losing grip at this point and he is unable to pick up the pace, which allows Hosokawa in No.100 to gradually close the gap on him once more.

With one lap remaining the two machines change position once again, although the action was not shown on the screens in the circuit. With this, everyone thought that Hosokawa in No. 100 Hosokawa had secured a podium finish, but after the race the judges gave him an additional 30-sec. penalty.

It appears that he had brushed No. 1 when passing it. This moved No.1 (Izawa) up to a 3rd place and a podium finish.Meanwhile, Motoyama in No. 23 was running smart in the lead, controlling his pace by keeping an eye on the margin between himself and No.32 (Hiranaka) in 2nd. He went to finish the 65 laps of the race with no danger to secure his team’s third victory of the season.

Although they missed the win, the 2nd place No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval/Katsuyuki Hiranaka) got their first podium finish of the season. The 3rd place finishers, the No. 1 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman/Takuya Izawa) ended what had been a frantic race, with a spin-out and dump-up with another machine, on a positive note with their podium finish.This win puts the No.23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer) on top in the season ranking. It also sends the GT-R into the final round with the closest shot at the title in its GT debut year.

The season’s 2nd ranking team, the No. 18 TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure/Ryo Michigami) finished this race in 7th, wile the 3rd ranked team, the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka/Andre Lotterer) finished 8th.

Below them, the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krum/Masataka Yanagida) that finished 5th in this race and the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa/Richard Lyons) that outran No. 22 to finish 4th, are tied in the season ranking.

Ebbro Xanavi Nismo....

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