Tsuboi, Sekiguchi Champions after Yamamoto Misfortune
Toyota drivers Sho Tsuboi and Yuhi Sekiguchi took their first Super GT race win of the season at the Fuji Speedway finale to come out on top in a dramatic championship battle.
Tsuboi and Sekiguchi each became first-time champions in the GT500 division courtesy of a strong winning drive aboard the No. 36 TOM’S Toyota GR Supra, combined with an incident for points leader Naoki Yamamoto that caused a switch at the top of the table.
Sekiguchi started well to jump from fourth to second and ran behind pole-sitter Kazuya Oshima in another Toyota until a safety car on lap eight for a stranded BMW M6 GT3.
The lead changed at the restart when Sekiguchi overtook Oshima into Turn 1, before his TOM’S teammate Sacha Fenestraz also got through a few corners later.
Tsuboi remained the leader after the driver change pit stops, but Yamamoto’s fourth place in the No. 1 Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT set him on course for his third GT500 title after successes with Jenson Button in 2018 and his current co-driver Tadasuke Makino last year.
That was until Yamamoto was hit by Ren Sato’s Honda NSX GT3 Evo into Turn 1, causing substantial damage to both cars and costing Yamamoto the championship.
Tsuboi carried on at the head of the field to take his maiden Super GT race win and secure the title in front of a jubilant Sekiguchi who watched on from the pit wall.
Tsuboi and Sekiguchi ended the year four points ahead of second-placed Nirei Fukuzumi and Tomoki Nojiri who finished sixth in the race with their Team Aguri Honda.
They were the top non-Toyota pairing in the 66-lap encounter as GR Supras locked out the top five, with Fenestraz and Ryo Hirakawa beating Oshima and Kenta Yamashita to second.
Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi won the GT300 title by finishing third in their Subaru BRZ.
***Prema has carried out the first test of its new Oreca 07 Gibson ahead of its sports car racing debut next year in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Italian team rolled out the car at Paul Ricard, next door to ORECA’s main facility.
***Rinaldi Racing will continue in the Asian Le Mans Series next year with a two-car entry, although one of those will be an LMP3 car alongside a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. The team is yet to confirm its driver lineups.
***Muecke Motorsport has joined the DTM Trophy with a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT4s. Drivers are yet to be announced. Muecke ran a single AMG GT3 Evo in the DTM this year.
***SPS Automotive Performance will run two Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos at the Gulf 12 Hours, including one for Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 Racing outfit. Habul will team up with Mikael Grenier and AMG factory driver Maro Engel. The other SPS car involves Valentin Pierburg, Benno Oerting and Christoph Lenz.
***The GTE-Pro and GTE-Am title-winning Ferrari 488 GTE Evos from the WEC were involved in the Ferrari Motorsport Festival, held as part of the Riyadh Car Show in the Saudi Arabian capital. Several factory drivers including James Calado, Daniel Serra and Miguel Molina were present.
***Balfe Motorsport has launched a charity fundraising appeal in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Donations go towards tokens for an auction on a door blade used on one of the team’s McLaren 570S GT4s this year.
On this weekend: Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS (Bathurst)