Yasuda, de Oliveira win Fuji 300
The Fuji GT 300 Km race, fifth round of the Autobacs Super GT, was held on August 7. The winner of the GT500 class race, for the first time this season, was the Calsonic Impul GT-R driven by Hironobu Yasuda and Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira, for whom it was sweet revenge to race to victory from pole position this time after the disappointment of having started from pole position in May here at Fuji in Round 2 only to lose the win due to machine trouble in the last four laps of the race.
Race day brought fine summer weather with blue skies and white clouds over Fuji speedway. On the other hand, before the 2:30 pm start time the air temperature had risen to 33 degrees Celsius, which would mean tough racing conditions for the machines and tires. The race began with a fine start from pole position by Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira in the Calsonic Impul GT-R, who then proceeded to rapidly open up a margin of lead over the pursuing S Road Craftsports GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama). By the 15th lap of the race, De Oliveira had extended his lead to five seconds over the second. Soon after, however, a collision between two GT300 class cars brought out the Safety Car to slow the race to a formation run and eliminate No. 12’s lead while pieces of the two cars were cleared from the track. But, when the race was restarted, De Oliveira again made a decisive dash into the lead, and by the time he returned to the pit for the routine pit stop, De Oliveira had again built a lead of over four seconds.
Now at the wheel of the Calsonic Impul GT-R for the second half of the race, Hironobu Yasuda raced on at a relentless pace reminiscent of the glory days of the team’s manager, Kazuyoshi Hoshino. Racing furiously to try to catch the leading No. 12, Katsumasa Chiyo in the No. 46 S Road Craftsports GT-R crashed out of the race on the 35th lap, leaving Yasuda in car No. 12 to race on alone to a perfect pole-to-win victory in the 66-lap race, having built up a lead of more than 25 seconds over the No. 17 Keihin NSX Concept-GT of Daiki Tsukakoshi and Takashi Kogure. Finishing 3rd came the No. 100 Raybrig NSX Concept-GT of Naoki Yamamoto and Takuya Izawa to claim the first podium finish for not one but two of the Honda NSX Concept-GT machines that had struggled to perform well first half of the season.
For the No. 12 Calsonic Impul GT-R team, this was their first win at Fuji since Round 2 of the 2014, and for the Nissan GT-R it was the fourth consecutive win from this year’s season opener.
The GT300 class race saw another case of the pole-position starter racing off to an early lead, this one by the No. 55 Arta BMW M6 GT3 of Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi. However, the late stages of the race saw the No. 21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS shared by Richard Lyons and Tomonobu Fujii close in from behind to stage a pitched battle for the lead. On the straight of the final lap, tension reached a peak as Lyons pulled alongside of Kobayashi (No. 55). But, car No. 55 was able to cross the finish line just 0.106 ahead of No. 21 to take its first win of the season. For the team of car No. 55 that had finished a disappointing 2nd after leading the race at Fuji in Round 2, it was sweet revenge, just as with car No. 12 in the GT500 class race.