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Super GT Suzuka - Round One Suzuka

The race started in a slight drizzle that made the track slippery. That led to the first big upset of the race at 130R on the opening lap, where the pole-setting #18 Honda HSV-010 (Takashi Kogure) ran off the track and dropped way back.

Racing through the confusion from 5th on the grid to take the lead at the end of lap one was the #35 Lexus SC430 driven by Kazuya Oshima. After a 10th position start, Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the #24 Nissan GT-R was also able to move up five positions to come through the first lap in 5th.

Meanwhile, after dropping back to the back of the GT500 pack on lap one and pushing desperately to regain ground, Kogure in car #18 recorded the fastest lap of the race (1 min. 55.555 sec.) on lap five. By lap 10, Kogure had recovered to join the battle for 8th position.

For Kogure and the #18 team the race would end on the next lap, however, as the result of a collision and crash that occurred when he, Ryo Michigami in the #32 Honda HSV-010 and Ralph Firman in the #8 HSV-010 went down the straight and into the first corner side-by-side. Kogure on the inside and Firman on the outside went spinning off the track in a tangle both hitting the barrier hard.  Michigami in #32 meanwhile managed to escape with only slight damage to the front end of his HSV-010 GT. A pair of the debuting Honda HSV-010s were out of the race in the early running.

The safety car came out to slow the cars for five laps while the debris of the crash was cleared away. The race was finally re-started on the 16th lap.

On the very next lap though, in the chicane, Andre Lotterer in the #1 TOM'S SC430 tried to pass Richard Lyons in the #38 SC430 to take 2nd position but overshot the curve. This allowed de Oliveira in car #24 to move into 3rd place and Bjorn Wirdheim in the #6 Lexus to take 4th.

A close-fought battle would continue between these three cars until Lyons brought his car into the pit for the routine pit stop at the end of lap 23. On the same lap, Oshima in the leading #35 car also made his pit stop. His teammate Hiroaki Ishiura took the wheel for the second half of the race, but on his first lap back on the track some kind of trouble had apparently developed in his machine as he slowed to a pace where even the GT300 cars were passing him. Yuji Tachikawa in car #38 easily passed him for the lead.

On his first lap out after the pit stop on lap 30, Juichi Wakisaka in car #1 was also unable to hold a fast pace and was quickly passed by Tachikawa (#38) as well.

In contrast de Oliveira in car #24 held off until lap 34 before bringing his car in for its pit stop. While changing drivers to teammate Hironobu Yasuda, the team made the bold tactical move of foregoing a tire change and finished their pit stop in just 26 seconds.

With this, after all the GT500 class machines had finished their pit stops, Yasuda retained the lead, followed by car #6 (Daisuke Ito) in 2nd and the #100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa/Naoki Yamamoto) in 3rd. Like the leader, #100 had also skipped a tire change to save precious pit time and gain position.

From there on, these three leading cars continued to run at roughly the same pace lap after lap. Behind them, fierce battles for position were raging, but the three leaders sailed on to the finish without coming close to each other.

The win marked a second consecutive opening round victory for the #24 HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R, having won the opener at Okayama last year.

GT300

In the GT300 race, the first upset came on the Degner Curve on lap one when the polesitting #7 Mazda RX7 driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi ran off the track and lost several places. More upsets followed on the same curve, as the #43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta), #2 Apple•K-ONE•Shiden (Hiroki Kato) and #31 apr COROLLA axio (Koki Saga) got tangled in a crash that sent all three teams out of the race.

This left the #11 JIMGAINER F430 (Tetsuya Tanaka) in the lead, but with the #33 HANKOOK PORSCHE driven by Masami Kageyama in hot pursuit, having moved up rapidly from a 12th-place start on the class grid.

Kageyama roared past Tanaka to take the lead at 130R on lap 2. Back in the pack, the positions were also changing quickly. By the time the crash in the GT500 class brought out the safety car, the lead order was #33 (Kageyama), #11 (Tanaka), #86 JLOC Lamborghini RG-3 (Koji Yamanishi), #3 HASEMI SPORT TOMICA Z (Kazuki Hoshino) and #7 (Taniguchi) filling out the top five.

Of these, Hoshino in car #3 returned for the routine pit stop in the lap after the safety car departed and the race resumed. This moved the cars behind him up one position and paved the way for Taniguchi's RX7 to boldly overtake Yamanishi in #86 from the outside on the reverse bank of lap 21.

Tanaka in #11 made his team's pit stop on the following lap, which took longer than the other teams and enabled the Mazda to move up into 2nd position. Katsuyuki Hiranaka took over the wheel of #11 after the pit stop, only to have the radiator damaged when the car's bottom hit the track and forced him out of the race.

Running in the lead in #33, Kageyama returned to the pit for his team's routine pit stop at the end of lap 33. An unexpected amount of time was lost in the driver change, however, and the team suffered a loss of position. In contrast the recovering Mazda RX7 team had gained time by electing to forego a tyre change in their pit stop on the 25th lap, thus giving them the lead.

Now aboard #7 was Ryo Orime. He continued to push at a fast, steady pace while being careful to put as little stress as possible on his car's worn tyres and maintaining his lead all the way to the checkered.  The Mazda team's first Super GT victory since the Suzuka opening round of the 2008 season.

Finishing 2nd was the #46 Nissan Z (Naoki Yokomizo/Tsubasa Abe). After starting from 3rd position on the grid, Tsubasa Abe had run off the course and lost considerable ground early in the race, but was later able to recover and regain much of it. Car #33s pit stop enabled the team to regain 2nd position and keep it to the finish.

In 3rd place came the #19 WedSports Lexus IS350 (Manabu Orido/Tatsuya Kataoka). In the early running a bad choice of tyres for the track condition had caused problems and led to a course run-off by Orido, but after changing to a different type of tires for the second half, teammate Kataoka was able push harder and move up to the third spot on the podium.

Race Result

1 24 HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R - J.P.Lima de Oliveira/ Hironobu Yasuda 1:53'23.333 52 laps 
2 6 ENEOS SC430 - Daisuke Ito/ Bjorn Wirdheim +0'09.322 
3 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 - Takuya Izawa/ Naoki Yamamoto +0'15.397 
4 1 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 - Juichi Wakisaka/ Andre Lotterer +0'17.954 
5 39 DENSO DUNLOP SARD SC430 - Andre Couto/ Kohei Hirate +0'19.326 
6 35 MJ KRAFT SC430 - Hiroaki Ishiura/ Kazuya Oshima +0'20.363 
7 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 - Toshihiro Kaneishi/ Koudai Tsukakoshi +0'46.508 
8 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R - Satoshi Motoyama/ Benoit Treluyer +1'32.333
9 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 - Yuji Tachikawa/ Richard Lyons +1Lap 
10 32 EPSON HSV-010 - Ryo Michigami/ Yuhki Nakayama +1Lap 
11 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R - Tsugio Matsuda/ Ronnie Quintarelli +10Laps DNF 
12 8 ARTA HSV-010 - Ralph Firman/ Yuji Ide +10 Laps DNF 
13 18 Weider HSV-010 - Takashi Kogure/ Loic Duval +10 Laps DNF

GT300

1 7 M7 MUTIARA MOTORSAMEMIYASGC RX7 - Nobuteru Taniguchi/ Ryo Orime 1:53'59.916 48 laps 
2 46 UP START MOLA Nissan Z - Naoki Yokomizo/ Tsubasa Abe +0'31.894  
3 19 WedsSport Lexus IS350 - Manabu Orido/ Tatsuya Kataoka +0'36.498 
4 5 MACHGOGOGO SHAKEN Vemac 408R - Tetsuji Tamanaka/ Haruki Kurosawa +0'37.184 
5 3 HASEMI SPORT TOMICA Nissan Z - Kazuki Hoshino/ Masataka Yanagida +0'50.302
6 33 HANKOOK PORSCHE - Mitsuhiro Kinoshita/ Masami Kageyama +0'50.400 
7 86 JLOC Lamborghini Gallardo RG-3 - Koji Yamanishi/ Yuhi Sekiguchi +0'53.837 
8 74 COROLLA Axio apr GT - Takuto Iguchi/ Yuji Kunimoto +1'02.919 
9 27 NAC EISEICOM LMP Ferrari 430 - Yutaka Yamagishi/ Hiroshi Koizumi +1'05.724 
10 87 JLOC Lamborghini Gallardo RG-3 - Hiroyuki Iiri/ Yuya Sakamoto +1'24.323 
11 26 CINECITTA TAISAN PORSCHE - Igor Sushko/ Masayuki Ueda +1Lap  
12 9 HATSUNEMIKU X GSR PORSCHE - Taku Bamba/ Masahiro Sasaki +2Laps 
13 62 R&D SPORT Subaru LEGACY B4 - Tetsuya Yamano/ Kota Sasaki +4Laps 
14 666 BOMEX LIAN BOXSTER - Junichiro Yamashita/ Takashi Miyamoto +10Laps 

NC 11 JIMGAINER DIXCEL DUNLOP F430 - Tetsuya Tanaka/ Katsuyuki Hiranaka +21 laps 
NC 31 apr COROLLA Axio - Koki Saga/ Kosuke Matsuura +47 Laps 
NC 43 ARTA Garaiya - Morio Nitta/ Shinichi Takagi +47 Laps 
NC 2 Apple•K-ONE•Shiden - Hiroki Katoh/ Hiroshi Hamaguchi +48Laps 
DNS 66 triple a Aston Martin Vantage GT2 - Hideshi Matsuda/ Hiroki Yoshimoto