Toy­ota wins SU­PER GT300 class at Au­topo­lis

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Toy­ota claimed a mem­o­rable first victory of the sea­son in the GT300 class as the 2016 cham­pion No. 25 Vi­vaC 86 MC driven by Takamitsu Mat­sui and Kenta Ya­mashita ran from pole po­si­tion to take the win in the third round of the 2017 AUTOBACS SU­PER GT se­ries. Held at the Au­topo­lis cir­cuit un­der sunny skies and over a chal­leng­ing 300-km dis­tance, the race proved to be one of the most ex­cit­ing and closely-fought con­tests of the sea­son so far.

“I would like to ex­tend my congratulations to the team for giv­ing Toy­ota a thrilling first win of the sea­son,” said Takayuki Yoshit­sugu, Chief Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Mid­dle East and North Africa Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice, Toy­ota Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion. “For Toy­ota, rac­ing events such as the SU­PER GT se­ries are an op­por­tu­nity to not only test the met­tle of our per­for­mance ma­chines, but also to de­velop human resources and to bring the joy of cars to an even wider au­di­ence. The at­mos­phere at the Au­topo­lis was ab­so­lutely ter­rific, and I ex­press my sin­cere ap­pre­ci­a­tion to our fans for their sup­port and con­stant en­cour­age­ment for our rac­ing ini­tia­tives.”

At the start of the race, the pole-sit­ting No. 25 Vi­vaC 86 MC with Kenta Ya­mashita at the wheel pulled away into the lead, closely fol­lowed by the car that started sec­ond on the grid. Just as it looked as if the bat­tle for the lead be­tween these two cars will heat up, a car from a ri­val man­u­fac­turer spun out at the 17th turn and came to a stop in the mid­dle of the of the track, caus­ing a col­li­sion with the No. 31 TOY­OTA PRIUS apr GT that forced the lat­ter to drop out of the race. The in­ci­dent brought out the safety car and stopped the race tem­po­rar­ily.

After the re-start, the gap be­tween the No. 25 Vi­vaC 86 MC and the sec­ond-placed car had been re­duced to just one sec­ond, and the bat­tle be­tween the two ma­chines con­tin­ued un­til the No. 25 made its pit stop on lap 30. After both cars had com­pleted their pit stops, the com­peti­tor car found it­self in the lead mo­men­tar­ily, but the No. 25 Vi­vaC 86 MC, now with Takamitsu Mat­sui be­hind the wheel, kept push­ing hard to quickly re­claim the ad­van­tage.

As the race en­tered the fi­nal stages, Mat­sui made a strong spurt and opened up a gap of nearly four sec­onds with 10 laps remaining. Even though the sec­ond-placed car man­aged to close the gap to one sec­ond again, Mat­sui suc­ceeded in hold­ing out by the nar­row­est of mar­gins to give Toy­ota the victory. At the fin­ish line, there was only a 0.091 sec­ond gap be­tween the noses of the two ma­chines.

“In the first half, I was hop­ing that Kenta Ya­mashita would break out and give us the race, but things didn’t go that eas­ily,” said Takamitsu Mat­sui. “Since it seemed that it had been tough go­ing in the first half, we changed the tire choice for the sec­ond half, and after they got warmed up, things went well. Be­cause Au­topo­lis is said to be a track where the JAF-GT300 cars have an ad­van­tage, I’m re­lieved that we were able to win here.”

Kenta Ya­mashita said, “When I was run­ning laps in the 1 min. 45 sec. range, I thought it was a good pace, but the sec­ond-placed car was able to stay with me and it was hard for me to build up any kind of solid lead. But in the sec­ond half of the race, Takamitsu Mat­sui did a fan­tas­tic job, and al­though there was some trou­ble along the way, the driv­ers and the team re­ally worked hard and we just man­aged to get the win, so I am glad.”

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