In this week’s Sportscar365 Weekend Racing Roundup we focus on the opening round of the 2014 Autobacs Super GT Series at the Okayama International Circuit. Over in Europe the EUROGTSPRINT series was set to race at Monza, but a lack of entries resulted in a cancellation of the races.
Super GT – GT500
Andrea Caldarelli and Daisuki Ito won the Okayama GT 300KM Race in the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S Lexus RC F. It was the first race under the new GT500 “DTM” regulations.
Starting from pole the No. 6 ENEOS Sustina Lexus RC F of Kazuya Oshima retained the lead into the first corner. Tsugio Matsuda (Nissan) hit James Rossiter (Lexus) on the opening lap, while Joao Paolo de Oliveira in the No. 12 Nissan went wide onto lap 2 after contact with the No. 46. Nissan of Satoshi Motoyama. This allowed Andrea Caldarelli, who had started from fifth on the grid, to move into third position behind Motoyama.
By lap 18 a rain shower hit the circuit and Caldarelli was able to close the gap to the leading cars, taking second place on lap 20. Daisuke Ito took over from Caldarelli in the pit stops, but after all stops had been made the No. 6, now driven by Yuji Kunimoto, was still in the lead, only just ahead of the No.37.
On lap 55 Kunimoto suddenly suffered a gear issue, which allowed Ito to pass him and take the lead. Ito stayed out of trouble and went on to win the race after nearly two hours. Kunimoto didn’t lose second position and made it a Lexus 1-2. Calsonic Impul finished third with the No. 12 Nissan GT-R.
Race – 1. KeePer TOM’s (Ito/Caldarelli) Lexus RC F, 2. ENEOS Sustina (Oshima/Kunimoto) Lexus RC F, 3. Calsonic Impul (Yasuda/De Oliveira) Nissan GT-R.
Super GT – GT300
In the Super GT GT300 class the No. 4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku BMW Z4 GT3 took victory, finishing just three tenths ahead of the No. 7 BMW Sports Trophy Team Studie BMW Z4 GT3.
Starting from pole position Morio Nitta in the No. 31 OGT Panasonic Toyota Prius was unable to fend off Tatsuya Kataoka in the No. 4 BMW. Kataoka moved into first position and stayed in the lead until a rain shower hit the circuit.
As the rain fell Bjorn Wirdheim in the No. 11 Gainer Dixcel Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 closed the gap to the leader and subsequently passed him. The No. 7 BMW moved into third three laps later, when Nitta parked his Prius with mechanical issues.
Wirdheim’s Mercedes then suffered a tire blowout just, allowing the Goodsmile Hatsune Miku BMW to retake the lead. A pit gamble then paid off for Nobuteru Taniguchi and despite Jörg Müller closing in every lap, Taniguchi managed to stay in front of the German and won the race by .329 seconds.
Race – 1. Goodsmile Hatsune Mike (Taniguchi/Kataoka) BMW Z4 GT3, 2. BMW Sports Trophy Team Studie (Müller/Ara) BMW Z4 GT3, 3. Gainer Dixcel (Hiranaka/Wirdheim) Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
Only five cars were on the provisional entry list just a couple of days before the weekend and when even less showed up for scrutineering the decision was made to cancel the Monza round.