Quintarelli, Matsuda Take First Nissan Win of Season
Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda ensured the opening three rounds of the Super GT season produced winners from each of the three GT500 manufacturers, as the NISMO Nissan pair claimed victory in Sunday’s 300km race at Suzuka.
Quintarelli and Matsuda won from second on the grid, finishing ahead of the Honda NSX-GT driven by Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino and the points-leading Toyota GR Supra of Sacha Fenestraz and Yuhi Sekiguchi.
After an early safety car, pole-sitter Takuya Izawa led in his Honda from Quintarelli before the NISMO driver was overtaken by the Toyota of Yuji Tachikawa at the chicane.
Quintarelli regained his composure to repay the favor on Tachikawa before both the Italian and his Toyota pursuer managed to get past Izawa simultaneously at Dunlop.
The Nissan GT-R NISMO led into the mid-race pit stops, while Makino in the Team Kunimitsu Honda charged up to second past Tachikawa and Izawa.
Matsuda inherited the lead from Quintarelli and refused to be challenged despite a safety car bunching up the field, while Makino’s co-driver Yamamoto came through in second for that pairing’s first podium of the year.
The final podium spot was decided by a collision at the hairpin when Yuichi Nakayama’s Team SARD Toyota, which had gained positions in the pits, was turned around by Nirei Fukuzumi’s Honda.
This incident allowed the Fesestraz/Sekiguchi Toyota to climb into third, while Izawa and Hiroki Otsu finished fourth in their Modulo Racing Honda that led early on.
GT300 honors went to Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda, drivers of the No. 11 GAINER Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, while Takashi Kobayashi and Kosuke Matsuura finished second in their Honda NSX GT3 Evo run by the UpGarage team.
Auer Breaks Audi’s Win Streak at Lausitzring
BMW’s Lucas Auer won the second DTM race of the weekend at the Lausitzring, bringing the manufacturer its first win after more than a year and 12 consecutive Audi victories.
Auer led home a one-two for Munich in race two, finishing ahead of fellow BMW M4 driver Timo Glock, while Rene Rast claimed his second win of the year in Saturday’s contest which heralded an Audi sweep of the podium.
Rast and Robin Frijns traded the lead in the opening stint of the second race, only for Jamie Green’s Audi to emerge from the pit stops in the lead from Auer and Glock’s BMWs.
Green was then overtaken by both BMW drivers in one move at the Turn 1 pinch point as Glock slotted into the top position.
This led to the ex-Formula 1 driver having an exciting scrap for the lead with Auer as the pair exchanged places several times going into that same corner.
Frijns then set himself in third place with a run up the inside of Green’s Audi heading through the final corner, while Auer clinched BMW’s first win since Brands Hatch 2019.
In race one, Rast claimed victory but only after a charge through the field following an off-track moment in the early stages that saw the reigning champion skid through the gravel.
Nico Mueller led the opening stint on wet tires but the order shuffled around after the field adopted slicks for the run to the flag following a wet start.
Mueller kept his advantage but the German driver stayed out on wets for too long, meaning his new tires weren’t up to temperature.
This left him liable to attacks from Frijns, Philipp Eng and Rast, who later on made his way into the lead and to victory with a move around the outside of Frijns at Turn 2.
Mueller ultimately got past Frijns on slicks to take second, while Glock finished fourth as the best BMW driver, ahead of Marco Wittmann and Mike Rockenfeller.
TF Sport, AF Corse Victorious at Paul Ricard
Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc won the opening GT Open race of the weekend as Vincent Abril and Louis Prette became the season’s first repeat winners in race two.
Having taken a class podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa the week before, Eastwood and Yoluc steered their red Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to victory in Saturday’s encounter at Paul Ricard.
Eastwood led away from pole, while the two Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3s slotted into second and third after Joe Osborne and Ollie Millroy both got past Christian Klien’s JP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 that started from the front row.
Eastwood built a lead of around 10 seconds in the first stint, which enabled Yoluc to emerge from the driver swaps with a 13-second gap over Osborne’s partner Nick Moss.
Yoluc controlled the remainder and took the checkered flag ahead of Moss, who held off the Miguel Ramos/Henrique Chaves Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren at the end.
Both Chaves and Vincent Abril in the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo passed Brendan Iribe in the second stint, leaving Optimum’s other McLaren in fifth.
In race two, Abril led from pole but came under heavy pressure from both Chaves and Yoluc in the early running.
The action continued after the driver changes as Prette was forced to defend hard from Ramos while Eastwood sat back around 20 seconds behind the leaders.
Although Ramos couldn’t find a way past Prette, handing AF Corse the spoils, the Portuguese driver and Chaves came away with the points lead thanks to their brace of podiums.
Other Racing Action
***Tim Heinemann won both of the weekend’s DTM Trophy races at the Lausitzring aboard his HP Racing International Mercedes-AMG GT4.
***In race one, Heinemann mastered the rain and controlled the single-lap dash stemming from a late safety car restart to beat Allied-Racing’s Felix Hirsiger and Leipert Motorsport’s Jan Kisiel (results).
***Race two saw Heinemann extend his points lead with victory over Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW driver Ben Tuck, while Kisiel had a double podium weekend. Heinemann overtook race leader Tuck after pouncing at Turn 1 with three laps to go (results).
***WEC points leader Jose Maria Lopez had a mixed DTM Trophy debut that started with a collision with his teammate’s Toyota GR Supra GT4 in the first contest. The Toyota LMP1 driver then took pole for race two but was sent to the back of the grid after a parc ferme infringement. Lopez responded to the penalty by working through the field to finish eighth.
***Markus Winkelhock and Maximilian Goetz won the Gran Turismo Cup races at the Lausitzring, using a Schaeffler-developed drive-by-wire system that is new to the German national series. Winkelhock’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 pipped Goetz’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 by 0.158 seconds in race one, before Goetz won by two seconds from Bentley driver Jordan Pepper in race two.
***FFSA French GT held its season-opening round at Nogaro with three races for the delayed Easter meeting. L’Espace Bienvenue’s BMW M4 GT4, AKKA-ASP’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 and AGS Events’ Aston Martin Vantage GT4 claimed a win each.
***Am-class pairing Daniel Diaz-Varela and Manel Cerqueda won the first GT Cup Open Europe race held at Paul Ricard, while solo driver Aldo Festante won race two.
News & Notes
***HWA has announced a zero-emission hydrogen racing series that is set to debut in 2023. The HYRAZE League, which has backing from the DMSB and ADAC, will work as both an on-track product and an esports competition. Teams will be made up of two drivers, one in the real-world race series and the other in an esports series, with both contributing to an overall points total.
***SRO Motorsports Group will organize a new French touring car series starting next year. Launched by the French Motorsport Federation, the FFSA Tourisme championship will be open to cars based on SRO America’s TC/TCA structure.
***The Sports Prototype Cup’s Revolution Trophy class will support the Formula 1 Portuguese Grand Prix on Oct. 23-24, marking the series’ second international round this year.
***Jorge Cabezas has left his GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup drive with Madpanda Motorsport due to sponsorship reasons. The Spanish driver shared the team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Patric Assenheimer and Ezequiel Companc in the Imola season-opener.
***Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard will join forces for this weekend’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship round at Brands Hatch, driving the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3. It’s set to be the first Aston GT3 appearance of the season.
On this weekend: GT World Challenge America powered by AWS (Road America), Pirelli GT4 America (Road America), TC America (Road America), European Le Mans Series (Paul Ricard), Michelin Le Mans Cup (Paul Ricard), NLS (Nürburgring), British GT (Brands Hatch)