Kovalainen, Nakayama Maintain Lexus Super GT Streak at Autopolis
Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama kept up Lexus’ winning streak in Super GT this year by securing its fifth consecutive win at Autopolis on Sunday.
Driving the No. 39 Lexus Team SARD car, the pair survived an unpredictable race that included multiple safety car periods and a rain shower that threw off many of their rivals’ strategies.
Three of the leading cars weren’t able to pit when they had planned due to the pit lane being closed behind the safety car so when they eventually pitted around two-thirds into the race, Nakayama found himself moved up to second.
He was trailing Bertrand Baguette’s Keihin Real Racing Honda NSX-GT GT500 but the Belgian was losing pace with his slick tires on a still damp track.
This allowed GT500 rookie Nakayama to move into the lead, where he stayed for the remainder of the race despite pressure from the second-placed car of Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi.
It marked Nakayama’s first GT500 win, to add to his seven GT300 class victories, while Kovalainen picked up his fourth win.
Baguette and Tsukakoshi finished 3.8 seconds down as the best-placed Honda, while Kondo Racing’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 was ninth as Nissan’s top car.
Hiroki Yoshimoto and Ritomo Miyata made it a Lexus sweep of both classes by taking a come-from-behind win in GT300 with their Lexus RC F GT3.
Emil Frey Dominates GT Open at Silverstone; Costa, Altoe Take Points Lead
Emil Frey Racing dominated the weekend’s International GT Open races at Silverstone with Albert Costa and Giacomo Altoe taking both wins and opening up a healthy lead in the points standings.
Costa and Altoe now have a 17-point lead after heading to Silverstone tied at the top of the standings with Teo Martin Motorsport’s Martin Kodric and Henrique Chaves.
The No. 63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo had a fairly unchallenged affair on Saturday, surviving two safety car periods.
They finished 1.6 seconds clear of teammates Norbert Siedler and Mikael Grenier who have Emil Frey a 1-2 result.
Sunday’s race wasn’t as straightforward for Costa and Altoe as one of Teo Martin’s McLaren 720S GT3s crossed the line first. Fran Rueda and Andres Saravia were, however, given a one-second penalty for not serving all of their pit stop handicap.
This moved the McLaren back to second, allowing Costa and Altoe to take top honors while their teammates finished third.
The other Teo Martin McLaren, of title contenders Kodric and Chaves, slowed on the final lap, dropping from third to sixth and losing valuable points.
Assenheimer Takes Third Consecutive VLN Win
Patrick Assenheimer and Manuel Metzger won Saturday’s VLN race, making Assenheimer the first driver since 2008 to win three consecutive races in the Nürburgring-based series.
Metzger returned as Assenheimer’s teammate at Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport after Maro Engel joined the team for Assenheimer’s previous win last month.
The No. 6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished 2:15 ahead of Car Collection Motorsport’s Pierre Kaffer and Frank Stippler, while GetSpeed Performance put a second Mercedes-AMG on the podium, driven by Dominik Baumann and Philip Ellis.
The four-hour race was characterized by heavy rainfall that caused a variety of track conditions as it dried out.
Stippler started from pole in Phoenix Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, but it was his other car, entered by Car Collection, with which he finished second.
He had a close duel early in the race with Manthey Racing’s Kevin Estre until the Porsche driver took the lead on the second lap until the car retired on Lap 14 after a crash at the Kesselchen before the Phoenix Audi also had to retire three laps late.
Assenheimer and Metzger soon made their way up to the front of the field and remained there to complete 25 laps of the Nordschleife.
RESULTS: VLN 6
News & Notes
***A 24-hour race reserved exclusively for Ginetta G40s will take place at Guardix, Spain, on Nov. 22-24. The inaugural want2race Ginetta 24HR will be open to G40s from Ginetta Juniors, GT5 Challenge and G50 Cup. Entry fees are £5,950 ($7361) + VAT for one car shared by three to six drivers.
***A project named ‘Motorsport in 2090’ will be showcased at January’s Autosport International Show in Birmingham, UK. Leading universities will outline their visions of a race car for the year 2090.
ACO president Pierre Fillon has challenged students to consider whether cars competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2090 will even be touching the ground. “In 2090, racers could be flying as well as driving. The cars could be communicating with each other with increased autonomy to support the driver,” he said.