On the outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Sepang International Circuit (1 lap/5.542kms) played host to Round 4 of the SUPER GT series. Starting from a fourth-place qualifying result, the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R (#24; Joao Paolo de Oliveira/Seiji Ara) took the win. In second place, the pole-starting MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, (#22; Michael Krumm/Masataka Yanagida) came second, resulting in a resounding 1-2 finish for the NISSAN GT-R. From four rounds this season, this is the third victory for the NISSAN supercar. KONDO Racing was also victorious last year; that win coming in a NISSAN Z. It is the team’s second successive Sepang victory.
Though typically prone to high temperatures and severe humidity, this year’s race got underway in what could be described as comparatively calm conditions at the 4:00pm rolling start, the temperature standing at 30 degrees, with the track measured at 39 Celsius. Starting from pole position, Michael Krumm took charge in the #22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, leading from when the lights went out to the end of his stint. On lap 24 he came in for his routine pitstop, handing the wheel over to Masataka Yanagida. With fuel and four fresh tyres on the car, he made his exit from the pits a mere one second quicker than the 2nd-placed #1 machine. However, the #1 NSX violently gave chase, and when battling side-by-side on lap 29, made contact with the NISSAN, pushing it into a spin. Tentatively running in 2nd place, the #1 NSX was handed a Drive-through penalty, restoring the #24 GT-R to the head of the field. However, the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R, from the winners here last year, KONDO Racing, also moved up to third place immediately after the start, and after the penalty was taken by the #1 car, moved securely into 2nd place. In addition, the driver who took over in the second half of the race, Seiji Ara pushed the #24 car onto the tail of the leading GT-R, presenting the chance of getting by. And so with both cars’ tyres coming to the end of their grip, a momentary chance presented itself on lap 50. Ara, through a decisive maneuvere, was instantly through. From there he made his escape, the accomplishment giving the team their first victory of the season.
In addition to the 100kgs of success ballast on the XANAVI NISMO GT-R (#23; Satoshi Motoyama/Benoit Treluyer), an additional 75kgs imposed in the form of a smaller diameter air restrictor meant the car was unable to show it’s true performance in official qualifying, and suffered as a result. After qualifying 15th, Benoit Treluyer took the start and made his way round, putting in the laps. For the second half of the race, Satoshi Motoyama took the wheel, giving chase to the cars ahead, though was unable to advance significantly. He brought the car home in 13th place. Sebastien Philippe took the start in the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, though contact with the #32 NSX on the opening lap forced him into a spin. As a result, he had to return to the pits because of trouble in the engine compartment. Repairs meant lost time and the car dropped back. Tsugio Matsuda took over the reins for the second half, the car crossing the line in 14th place. The #3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli/Naoki Yokomizo) qualified ninth. After battling with other cars, it reached the flag in 9th place.
KONDO Racing Team Director Masahiko Kondo’s comment:
“I just can’t believe it. When we won last year, I said we had been lucky. But this time it was a real fight and we won through pure ability. This victory is due to the fighting spirit of the drivers and is a credit to everyone on the team. It is truly wonderful. Thank you.”
Joao Paolo de Oliveira’s comment:
“Today is truly a fantastic feeling. Last year, we chased from 14th and it was easy to make up positions, but this year, the difference between the cars was much smaller and this made things a lot more difficult. Being able to win such a harsh race makes me extremely happy”
Seiji Ara’s comment:
”This time I believe our car was able to show the original performance of the GT-R. We were able to fight with the front-running GT-R and still there was room to spare. It was possible to recognize the momentary opportunity, and react to it.”
Leave a comment