Nissan Pairing Wins from Back of Grid
Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda sprung a surprise in round six of the Super GT series at Suzuka as the Nissan duo charged to victory from the back of the GT500 grid.
A crash for Matsuda in qualifying left Quintarelli to start last out of 15 top-categry competitors on Sunday, but the Italian made up a handful of positions in the first stint.
Things then got even better for the red No. 23 Nissan GT-R Nismo as Quintarelli pitted late in the pit window to get Matsuda out moments before a safety car period neutralized the field for a GT300 car going off at the esses.
The deployment of the safety car enabled Matsuda to get his stop done when his rivals were running slowly, whilst everyone else had come in under green flag conditions.
Matsuda then controlled the restart and extended his lead to almost five seconds over the second-placed Calsonic Impul Nissan of Kazuki Hiramine and Daiki Sasaki.
ARTA Honda drivers Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi, who had battled Hiramine and Sasaki for the lead in the opening stint, came through in third.
Sasaki overtook Toyota’s Yuji Kunimoto and Honda’s Takuya Izawa to get up to third, before Team Impul got ahead of ARTA during their pit stops that came one lap apart.
In the GT300 class, Team Hitotsuyama’s Shintaro Kawabata and Tsubasa Kondo delivered the first win for an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo in Super GT.
RESULTS: Suzuka 300km
Gilardoni Seizes Points Lead Despite Heavy Crash
Kevin Gilardoni took the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe championship lead with victory in the first race at Spa and was then caught up in a big crash that brought the weekend’s second race to a premature end.
Gilardoni ran the penultimate round of the season on his own after his regular teammate Dorian Boccolacci received a late call to drive for Audi in the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
The Oregon Team Lamborghini Super Trofeo EVO that won twice last time out at Barcelona took a third straight victory in Race 1 thanks to Gilardoni’s pass on Patrick Liddy.
Liddy’s co-driver Jonathan Cecotto led the opening stint from pole, ahead of Dean Stoneman – another solo driver – and Sebastian Balthasar.
Rain made track conditions difficult heading into the driver swaps but Cecotto stayed out until the end of the window before handing over to his American co-driver.
Behind, Gilardoni moved up to third past Balthasar’s co-driver Noah Watt coming out of Les Combes before tracking down and overtaking Liddy on the Kemmel Straight to secure the win. Liddy and Cecotto finished second, six seconds down the road.
In Race 2, Yuki Nemoto and Olli Kangas took their maiden Super Trofeo Europe victory while Gilardoni remained ahead in the championship despite his involvement in a nasty collision that left Raul Guzman with a broken tibia.
Gilardoni was in between Cecotto, on the inside, and Guzman heading out of La Source following a safety car restart for Emir Keserovic going off at Les Combes, when a touch sent all three into the left-side barriers.
At the front, VS Racing’s decision to bring Kangas in early during the safety car period shuffled Nemoto into the lead and the Japanese driver clinched the win after the race was red-flagged with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Reduced points were awarded for the cars covering less than 75 percent distance, meaning Dean Stoneman’s third-place kept him 7.5 points adrift of Gilardoni.
Maiden Overall Win for Supra GT4
The Toyota GR Supra GT4 took its maiden overall race win as CMR drivers Stephane Lemeret and Gael Castelli triumphed in the second race of the weekend at Spa.
The French pairing won the Silver Cup class last time out at Zandvoort but were yet to chalk up the first win for Toyota’s newest sports car product that arrived earlier this year.
Castelli led on the opening lap from his Supra teammate Antoine Potty, who was passed by a charging Nicolaj Moller-Madsen in one of three Allied Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsports.
Their battling enabled Valentin Hasse-Clot to join the podium scrap in the AGS Events Aston Martin Vantage GT4, affording Castelli the room to establish a clear lead.
Lemeret took over the front-running Supra and went on to secure the win, while Potty’s Toyota encountered a issue during its pit stop that resulted in retirement.
Hasse-Clot’s co-driver Theo Nouet emerged from the stops in second but the Frenchman was given a stop-go penalty for his Aston Martin’s pit stop being too short.
In Nouet’s place, Willem Meijer and Esteban Muth were promoted to second with their Selleslagh Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Despite their Race 2 penalty drama, Hasse-Clot and Nouet took Race 1 honors in their AGS Events Aston Martin to boost their Silver Cup title hopes against Lemeret and Castelli who finished 15th overall and sixth in class during the initial encounter.
A recovery to fourth in the second race after the stop-go presented Hasse-Clot and Nouet with a 24-point advantage heading into the Paul Ricard season finale next month.
AGS dominated a wet Race 1 as Nouet built a three-second lead in the opening stint before handing over to Hasse-Clot who took the checkered flag 17 seconds clear of the of Jan Jan Kasperlik and Bastian Buus.
News & Notes
***Porsche last week presented ten completed examples of its Porsche 911 RSR-19 GTE car at its sporting department in Weissach. The RSR-19, which has been racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Porsche’s factory teams this season, is eligible for customer usage next year.
***SRO Motorsports Group has confirmed that the main GT2 competition in Europe next year will be called the GT2 European Series. Part of the GT Sports Club package, which includes the new GT Rebellion championship, the GT2 European Series will consist of two 50-minute sprint races for single drivers or pairings at Monza, Hockenheim, Silverstone, Spa and Paul Ricard.
***The DTM championship decider at Hockenheim will go ahead without trackside spectators on Nov. 7-8 due to precautions against the evolving coronavirus situation in Germany. Audi’s Rene Rast, Nico Mueller and Robin Frijns are in contention for the title.
***British GT squad Balfe Motorsport will take its McLaren 720S GT3 to this weekend’s International GT Open season finale at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. McLaren factory driver Rob Bell and Shaun Balfe will drive, as they did for a complete season in 2017.
***A Honda NSX GT3 Evo has also been added to the GT Open entry. JAS Motorsport development driver Reece Barr will team up with last year’s GT Sports Club Europe champion Jens Reno Moller. The only previous Honda entry in GT Open came in 2018 when Esteban Guerrieri and Bertrand Baguette drove at Monza.
***Two Ferrari Challenge cars have joined the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s three-hour season finale at Silverstone. The cars, run by separate teams, will be driven by John Dhillon/Phil Quaife and Lucky Khera/Lee Frost/Ross Wylie.
***Two sports car races were held in support of last weekend’s Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix. The ‘Portimao GT Challenge’ attracted a handful of GT3 cars including a two-car Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo entry from GetSpeed Performance. Additionally, the UK-based Sports Prototype Cup held its second overseas round of the year with Alex Kapadia and Michel Frey taking the wins.
On this weekend: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), European Le Mans Series (Portimao), ADAC GT Masters (Lausitzring), International GT Open (Barcelona), Super Taikyu (Okayama)