Published on October 12th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Super GT Buriram, Round 7 Thailand, action and eye candy all the way
The BURIRAM SUPER GT RACE, Round 7 of the 2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was run at Chang International Circuit (Thailand) on the afternoon of October 9th. This third running of a SUPER GT round in Thailand was blessed with good weather and hot competition on the track. In the GT500 class race, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN RC F (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto) started from pole position and ran virtually unchallenged to claim the team’s first victory in this class. In the GT300 class race, the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya/Takamitsu Matsui) took its first win of the season running on a strategy of no tire change.
Following the Pit Walk event that proved so popular here in Thailand, it was time for the race to begin. The formation lap began on schedule at 3:00 in the afternoon. After that lap the cars roared into racing mode.
It was the No .3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino) that made the best dash to the front for its 2nd-position start, and by the entrance to the third turn, Hoshino had caught up with the pole-starting No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya). Hoshino then pulled alongside Tsuchiya coming out of the turn and ran on into the lead.
Behind the two leaders came the No. 0 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Andre Couto) and the No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 (Shinnosuke Yamada), and standing in 5th position as the first lap ended was the No. 11 GAINER TANAX AMG GT3 (Bjorn Wirdheim) that had jumped up two places from its 7th-position start.
After holding on to the tail of the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R as best it could for a while, the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC gradually began to drop back, only to face a determined chase by the hard-charging No. 0 GAINER TANAX GT-R behind it. This chase lasted until the No. 0 GAINER TANAX GT-R succeeded in overtaking No. 25 on the sixth lap of the race to hold 3rd place for a while. From this point onward the two leading GT-Rs would battle at the front.
At the end of the 18th lap, the No. 88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido>Kazuki Hiramine) and the No .7 Studie BMW M6 (Seiji Ara >Jorg Muller) opted for early routine pit stops.
Among the top group, the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R made its pit stop at the end of the 22nd lap and changed drivers from Hoshino to Jann Mardenborough. Here, the team suffered a costly time loss when trouble with the ABS caused the engine to stop unexpectedly. By the time the car finally left the pit, it had in effect dropped back into 3rd place.
The No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui) was now back in the lead after No. 4 finally made its pit stop. Now in 2nd place after also adopting a no-tire-change strategy was the No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86, following in 3rd by the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R. From this point began a hard charge by Mardenborough in car No. 3 to catch the leader, Matsui. First, Mardenborough closed the gap to the No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 running three seconds in front of him. After about ten laps, Mardenborough was on the tail of No. 18. But then, the unexpected happened and ended this battle.
On the fifth turn of the 52nd lap, the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R of the GT500 class that was trying to overtake the two GT300 machines pulled into the path of the No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 and the two collided. Both machines spun out as a result and caused a tie-up with the machines coming up from behind. The No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 suffered machine damage that forced it back to the pit and, unfortunately, out of the race for good.
This put the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R in 2nd place with its sights set on the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC running strongly in the lead. Having made a tire change, the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R clearly had the faster pace of the two. On the other hand, the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC wasn’t getting the speed it needed. In fact, No. 25 was being hindered by a problem in its fuel pump that was causing its engine to gasp. With directions from engineer Takeshi Tsuchiya and the engineers, Matsui succeeded in switching to the auxiliary fuel pump the fix the problem. But now, a new problem loomed. Would they have enough gas to get to the finish? Should they make a pit stop to refuel and be sure of salvaging at least some championship points, or should they keep running and make it an all-or-nothing shot at victory. Engineer Takeshi decided that if they were really concerned about the championship they couldn’t afford a pit stop now. The gamble paid off.
Holding off the charge from Mardenborough in the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R that lasted into the last lap, Matsui drove the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC on to take the checkers first by a margin of 1.189 sec. It was a coveted first win for Matsui and the first of the season for the team.
Although it had failed to regain the lead, the blazing charge by the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R had thrilled the fans and won their applause. Finishing 3rd behind it came the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi>Takashi Kobayashi), which had also opted to run without a tire change.
This victory put the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya/Takamitsu Matsui) in the lead in the Driver Championship standings, follow five points behind by the No. 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Jann Mardenborough), with the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi) ranking 3rd. In 4th position after no-pointing due to Hideki Yamauchi costly crash stands the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi/Yamauchi). Still, only seven points separate these four teams. And, since the final round at Motegi will involve two races, there is no saying how the title race will play out. It will surely be an exciting climax to the season.
In the GT500 class race, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN RC F (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto) started from pole position and ran virtually unchallenged to claim the team’s first victory in this class. In the GT300 class race, the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya/Takamitsu Matsui) took its first win of the season running on a strategy of no tire change.
As a result of this seventh round of the series run in Thailand, the ranking leaders, the No. 1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) were unable to add any points to their total. On the other hand, by finishing 3rd, the No. 6 WAKO’S 4CR RC F (Kazuya Oshima/Andrea Caldarelli) boosted their point total to 46, which moves them to within 10 points of the No. 1 team in the standings. These two teams are followed in the standings by the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura), No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD RC F (Heikki Kovalainen/Kohei Hirate) and the winner of this race, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN RC F (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto).