Oshima, Yamashita Claim First Super GT Title; Hirakawa, Cassidy Win at Motegi
Kazuya Oshima and Kenta Yamashita were crowned Super GT champions on Sunday with a second place finish in the season-ending race at Motegi.
The pair took their No. 6 Team LeMans Wako’s car to the runner-up spot, finishing 12 seconds behind Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy amongst a Lexus sweep of the top four positions.
Hirakawa moved into the lead midway through the race but Yamashita only needed to finish second to secure the title for himself and Oshima.
He pressured Yuki Sekiguchi for second and successfully made his way past the Team au Tom’s Lexus after a side-by-side battle.
Sekiguchi held on for third position at the line, sharing his car with Kazuki Nakajima.
The best-placed Honda NSX-GT was the Keihin Real Racing car of Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi in fifth, while Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli were the highest Nissan GT-R pairing in eighth.
While Oshima and Yamashita secured the drivers’ title, Hirakawa and Cassidy’s win was enough to pick up the teams’ title for Lexus Team KeePer Tom’s.
It marked the end of a successful year for teams running the outgoing Lexus LC500, which will be replaced by the Toyota GR Supra when Super GT adopts Class One regulations next year.
Lexus teams won six of eight races this year, while Honda and Nissan only visited the top step of the podium once each. Remarkably, champions Oshima and Yamashita were the only pairing to win more than once, having picked up victories at Buriram and Fuji.
In GT300, Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda claimed the race win with their Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, but the championship honors went the way of ARTA’s Shinichi Takagi and Nirei Fukuzumi with a fourth-place finish in their Honda NSX GT3 Evo.
News & Notes
***Dates for Super GT’s two overseas rounds next year were confirmed on Saturday. The series will return to Buriram, Thailand, on July 4-5, before its round at Sepang, Malaysia, two weeks later on July 17-18.
***The rest of the schedule was revealed in August. The season will get underway at Okayama on Apr. 11-12 before races at Fuji, Suzuka, the two flyaway rounds, Sportsland SUGO, Autopolis and the finale at Motegi on Nov. 7-8.
***Penske Entertainment Corp., a subsidiary of Penske Corporation, has purchased the NTT IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other assets from Hulman & Company, marking a significant shakeup in the North American motorsports scene. A press conference is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. ET.
***Ryan Briscoe took part in Sunday’s New York City Marathon; his second marathon after competing in his first earlier this year. Briscoe’s training for the famous race overlapped with the second half of his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, during which he scored back-to-back GT Le Mans wins at Lime Rock Park and Road America.
“I did a marathon earlier this year, in February, so that was my first,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I really prepared that well for it, though. I actually went to the marathon with the half in mind and then when I showed up, I was like, ‘Ah, screw it. I’ll do the full and did the full.’ But it gave me the bug.”
***ARC Bratislava will defend its Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 Am Trophy championship this winter with a lineup of Miro Konopka, Andrea Laskaratos and Kang Ling. It’s set to once again run a Ligier JS P2 Nissan, with the LMP2 Am Trophy class reserved for previous-gen machinery.