The MOTEGI GT 300km RACE, Round 4 of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series was held on the afternoon of July 18 (Sun) at Twin Rings Motegi (one lap 4,801m x 63 laps) in Tochigi Pref. In the GT500 class, the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) came from behind after giving up the lead once to take its first win of the season. In the GT300 class, the No. 2 muta Racing Lotus MC (Hiroki Kato/ Ryohei Sakaguchi) took its first win as a new team.
The air temperature at the circuit had risen since the day before to reach 33℃, while the track surface temperature climbed to over 50℃, making for very harsh conditions at the start of the 63-lap race. While the pole-starting No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Tadasuke Makino) was able to hold the lead position, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Yuji Kunimoto) starting from 2nd-place on the grid and two more TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 cars, the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi) and the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Sena Sakaguchi) were hot on its tail. On the 7th lap of the race, car No. 19 had closed the gap and managed to pass car No. 1 to take the lead and begin to pull away.
There were no more changes in the top order from there as the race entered its middle stages. But it was during the routine pit stops that the next development in the race occurred. Being the first to make its pit stop, the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT was able to complete its pit work smoothly, but when the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra made its pit stop three laps later there was a significant time loss in their tire changes. This put the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) in the lead again for the second half of the race, while the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Ritomo Miyata) had to try to catch up. With its high pace, car No. 19 was able to close the gap, but with his experience as a two-time GT500 champion, Yamamoto in car No. 1 was able to hold off that challenge and keep the lead. With its tire performance weakening in the final stages of the race, car No. 19 fell behind, leaving No. 1 to take its first win of the season from pole position by a gap of 3 sec. Finishing in 3rd place was the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sho Tsuboi). The top finisher among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 teams was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R Kohei Hirate/Katsumasa Chiyo), which started from 7th position and managed to move up one spot to finish in 6th.
In the first half of the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No. 11 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda) kept the lead and continued to run in the lead after the routine pit stops. It was then that another car came to a stop with machine trouble. Seeing the opportunity that this presented, the No. 2 muta Racing Lotus MC (Hiroki Katoh), which had not yet made its pit stop was able make its pit stop and return to the race in the lead when a Full Course Yellow (FCY) condition was called. After that, Ryohei Sakaguchi in car No. 2 was able to hold of the closing charges of car No. 11 (Katsuyuki Hiranake) and the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT (Hiroki Yoshida) to take the win. This was a felicitous first win for the team competing this season with a new makeup, and for Sakaguchi.
(Spectators: 12,500 for the race / 7,500 for the qualifying)
No.1 STANLEY NSX-GT
“Everyone, we’ve won! In these race conditions, we knew it was going to be a battle against the No. 19 GR Supra. As I watched Makino-san race in the first half, I kept in mind the fact that there were times when our pace was good and times when it wasn’t. I decided that it would be difficult to try to pull away from No. 19 all at once, so my strategy was to let them put wear on their tire trying to catch up and then pick up the pace once their tire performance had dropped. Fortunately, the fact that there were two FCY periods that played to our advantage, and when I pushed hard at those times, I was able to open up a lead. With this we were able to conduct the race in an ideal way for us. It was really a great race for us.”
“It was really good the way it turned out. In my stint during the first half, I fell back to 2nd position, which made things a bit hard for us. I was really impressed by the performance of my Teammate Yamamoto-san. As I watched (car No. 19 closing in), I was really nervous. But Yamamoto-san was truly magnificent.”
No.2 muta Racing Lotus MC
“To win from 17th position on the starting grid is really too much to have even dreamed of (laughs). Since we had two months since the last race, we went back and reviewed the data we had, and that helped us get a better match between the machine and tires for this third race. And we got a good set-up for our Advics brake system that I think helped us be more competitive in the race. While we were also helped by the timing of the FCY periods, we also had a very good pace during the race, which I think was due to the efforts of the drivers and the team. So, I am very happy with this result.”
“I have been racing for a long time, but I think this was a day when everything went well for our team. We came here to Motegi with some (prior) confidence, but there were mistakes in the qualifying (leaving the team in 17th place). But during the race, Kato-san’s speed in the first half, the fact that our no-tire-change strategy in our pit stop before the FCY went well, and the way our Advics brake system held out to the end were all great. When I took the checkered flag at the end to win the race, I thought there really are times like this when everything goes perfectly.”
Source. Super GT