Yamamoto, Makino Win from Pole at Motegi
Honda pairing Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino claimed their first win of the Super GT season at Motegi after starting from pole position.
The Team Kunimitsu duo overcame Yuji Kunimoto and Ritomo Miyata’s Toyota GR Supra during the pit cycle to kick-start their 2020 title defense at the third round of the campaign.
Kunimoto overtook Makino at 130R corner on lap seven and led through to the driver change pit stops. Makino, meanwhile, was coming under pressure from TOM’s Toyota driver Yuhi Sekiguchi, which prompted Team Kunimitsu to pit earlier than its rivals.
Kunimoto’s WedsSport Bandoh squad responded by bringing the leading Toyota in four laps later, but a slow tire change enabled the Kunimitsu Honda – now with Yamamoto at the helm – to get back ahead.
Yamamoto then soaked up the pressure over the remaining laps from Miyata and Sho Tsuboi, who had taken over from Sekiguchi, to secure the victory.
Ukyo Sasahara and Toshiki Oyu finished fourth in their Red Bull Team Mugen Honda, ahead of Team Aguri’s Nirei Fukuzumi and Tomoko Nojiri.
The victory elevated Yamamoto and Makino to second in the championship standings, behind Toyota’s Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima despite the Team Eneos Rookie pair finishing outside the points in 13th.
GT300 class honors went to Hiroki Katoh and Ryohei Sakaguchi driving a Lotus Evora mother chassis car.
***Leipert Motorsport will return to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship for the first time since 2012, with a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 entry for this weekend’s round at Spa-Francorchamps. Fidel Leib and Brendon Leitch will race in Silver-Am.
***Another additional Spa entry comes from FF Corse, which is running a Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo in the GTC class. Omar Jackson and ex-FIA World Endurance Championship driver Charlie Hollings are due to share the wheel.
***The Nürburgring issued a statement after severe flooding caused fatalities and extensive damage in the Eifel region. “All available rescue forces, as well as many employees and technical equipment of the Nürburgring, are in the region to help where help can be given,” it said. “Our thoughts are with the people who have lost relatives and friends and to people who have lost all their belongings.” Information on relief efforts can be found here.
***The region around Spa-Francorchamps, which is due to host British GT this weekend, was also impacted by recent flooding. The Blanchimont paddock access road “collapsed” according to an update from the Belgian circuit last Thursday, while the Blanchimont and Ster tunnels were impassable. The track was reported to have escaped damage.
***Team Virage won the three-hour Ultimate Cup Series prototype race at Paul Ricard with a Ligier JS P320 Nissan driven by Miguel Christovao, Julian Kuwabara-Wagg and Mathis Poulet. Franck Thybaud and Eric Cayrolle won the four-hour GT endurance race in a Renault RS.01 prepared by the AB Sport Auto outfit.
On this weekend: DTM (Lausitzring), Intelligent Money British GT Championship (Spa), International GT Open (Imola)