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WEIDER MODULO HSV-010 PAIR TAKE IMPRESSIVE FIRST VICTORY!

The "42nd International Pokka Sapporo 1000km", Round 5 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series was held at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807 km x 173 laps) in Mie Pref. on August 18. Amid numerous accidents to be expected in a race of this length, the Weider Modulo HSV-010 driven by Naoki Yamamoto and Frederic Makowiecki won the GT500 class race for their first win of the season. In the GT300 class, the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki/Takuto Iguchi) team won its first GT race with the BRZ.



■ GT-R and HSV-010 GT machines battle for supremacy
With the race distance returned to 1,000 km, the longest of the season, the long run to the goal in the "42nd International Pokka Sapporo 1000km" race was set to begin at 12:30 in the afternoon. Despite some drizzles in the morning, the start was made under clear mid-summer skies at 12:35 when the 173-lap race began, with the air temperature at 34˚ C. and the track surface temperature at 47˚ C.



Perhaps in anticipation of the long race ahead, all the cars made a clean start, with the pole-sitting No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) leading through the first lap. Behind car No.23, the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Kazuki Nakajima) made a move on the chicane to pass the No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 driven by Naoki Yamamoto and break into the 1-2 lead of the Michelin tired cars to take second position. Meanwhile, the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Kohei Hirate) and the No.6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 Kazuya Oshima) followed in 4th and 5th positions respectively.

As the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R pulled away in the lead, recording fastest laps one after another, the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 that had dropped to 3rd position at one point, began to put the pressure on the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 and caught up with it amid traffic of GT300 class back markers on lap eight and finally passed it on the spoon curve of lap 13 to recover 2nd position and begin slowly closing on the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R in the lead.

After the 20th lap the two lead machines were racing nose-to-tail. On the chicane of lap 23, the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-01020 succeeded in a move to pass the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R from the far outside when it got caught behind a GT300 class back marker. This gave No. 18 the lead. Unable to hold a fast pace midway through its stint, the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R was passed by the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 as well on lap 27, thus dropping to 3rd position. Then on the spoon curve of the next lap, No. 23 was passed by the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430. Now running in 4th position, on lap 29 No. 23 became the first of the leading machines to return to the pit for its first routine pit stop, and the wheel was turned over to Masataka Yanagida.



Running clear in the lead and maintaining its margin over the rest of the pack, the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 made its routine pit stop on lap 35 and changed drivers from Yamamoto to Frederic Makowiecki. Returning to the race without giving up the lead to the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430, No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 or No.1 REITO MOLA GT-R that had completed their pit stops earlier, Makowiecki proceeded to record fastest laps of the race thus far as he increased his lead.

Just around the time the teams were ready to begin making their second routine pit stop, a GT300 car suffered a burst tire on the west straight of lap 66. This accident produced a fire that brought the car to a stop on the green and forced the officials to bring out the Safety Car (SC). While the SC controlled the race, the No.1 REITO MOLA GT-R (on lap 67) and the No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (on lap 68) both returned quickly to the pit, perhaps because of fuel consumption worries. Then, after the cars were arranged in their GT500 and GT300 orders and the SC restarted its run, the leading No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010, and on the next lap (69) the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 and No.37 KeePer TOM'S SC430 returned to the pit for their routine stops.

The timing of these stops would have big consequences, putting the No.1 REITO MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama) in the lead when the race was restarted on lap 73 and the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Quintarelli), which had fortunately finished its second pit stop a lap before the SC came into the race on lap 65, found itself in 2nd place. The No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 now stood behind these two in 3rd place.


■Battles for podium positions continue to the final stages of the race
As it turned out, the quick pit stops made by the No.1 REITO MOLA GT-R, No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 and the No.24 D'station ADVAN GT-R were judged to be violations of the SC regulation and all three cars were given a 90-second penalty stop that took them out of the competition for the lead. This put the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R back in the lead on lap 81. Although the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 (Yamamoto) was in pursuit in 2nd position, No. 23 still enjoyed a 10-second margin of lead when it made its pit stop on lap 103 and turned the wheel over to Yanagida again. However, the bad luck of a collision with a GT300 machine on the S-curve of its first lap out of the pit that caused it to run off the track cause it to lose ground. When the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 made its pit stop on the next lap (104), there was only an 8-second margin between the two lead machines.

While setting new records for fastest laps, Makowiecki continued to narrow the gap , and finally on the 115th lap his No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 was on the tail of the of the leading No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R. Yanagida tried to hold off the attack, but when he swung wide in the spoon curve of lap 116, it was all the opportunity the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 needed to slip into the lead.



Behind this match race between the two leaders, there was a close-fought battle going on between the No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, No.19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430, No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 and the No.37 KeePer TOM'S SC430. In the midst of this action the No.19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 (Seiji Ara) hit a patch of dirty track while trying to maneuver around a back maker on the S-curve of lap 132 and ran off the track, dropping to 6th position in the process. This put the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (James Rossiter) and No.37 KeePer TOM'S SC430 (Andrea Caldarelli) in position to close in on the No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda).

On lap 139, all three of the top machines made their last routine pit stop at the same time, but there were no changes in the order. As a result, Yamamoto was in the lead entering the last stint, Yamamoto was in the lead and determined to hold it. To the end, the No.18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 maintained the speed to hold off the No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Quintarelli) and take the checkered first at the finish of the 173-lap race. For the Weider Modulo team it was their first win of the season. For the drivers Yamamoto and Makowiecki it was their momentous first GT500 win.

The 2 No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R finished 2nd. Finishing 3rd was the No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Kazuki Nakajima) that had managed to pass the No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Joao Paulo de Oliveira) that had run off the track on lap 171. In this way, one car each of the big-three manufacturers was represented on the winners' podium at the end of the 1,000 km race.

The SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT takes its first GT victory in a total team effort to the end!
■Appearance of the Safety Car erases the BRZ's big lead
At the start of the GT300 class race, the pole-starting No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Kota Sasaki) was the first car through the first turn. By the time he came around to the main stand at the end of the first lap, Sasaki had already built up a 3-second lead over the No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino) in 2nd place. On the second lap, Sasaki showed speed close to that of the qualifying session time attack in recording the fastest lap of the day, a 2'02.606. A this speed he rapidly drew away from the rest of the pack that was running in the 2 min. 6-sec. range. By the 27th lap, the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT had built up an enormous lead of 50 seconds over the S Road NDDP GT-R in 2nd place. Then, the BRZ made it's first routine pit stop on the next lap. For the second stint of the race, the wheel of the BRZ was turned over to Takuto Iguchi, who continued to run steadily in the 2 min. 4 to 5 sec. range. This gave him a lead of more than one minute over the No.4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW (Tatsuya Kataoka>Jorg Muller) that had moved into second position with an early pit stop strategy.

A little more than one-third of the way through the race on lap 58, the No.86 CrystalCroco LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Shinya Hosokawa) suffered a burst in its left rear tire on the back stretch. This caused major damage to the rear cowl and damage near the engine that resulted in a small fire. To deal with this accident, the Safety Car was brought in to control the race over the next nine laps.

The SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT had finished its second routine pit stop just before this and changed drivers to Tetsuya Yamano. However, the presence of the SC eliminated the nearly 1 minute and 30 second of lead the team had built up. But, Yamano's pace turned out to be no less formidable than Iguchi's had been, and once again the BRZ began to build up a lead over the GSR HATSUNEMIKUBMW (Nobuteru Taniguchi) in 2nd position and the two SLS machines behind it, the No.52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS (Naoya Gamou) and No.62 LEON SLS (Haruki Kurosawa), as well as the No.88 ManePa LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido). Before the BRZ's next pit stop that handed the wheel from Yamano to Iguchi, it had built up lead of nearly 1 min. and 20 sec. On his second stint of the day, Iguchi continued to drive steadily at a fast pace and maintain the lead until the last driver change that put Kota Sasaki back behind the wheel of the BRZ. Meanwhile, the No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R that had been among the leaders in the early running was charges with a penalty regarding the timing of its pit stop when the Safety Car came out and had to execute a 90-second penalty stop that dropped it out of contention for the remainder of the race.

■Sasaki loses the lead with late-race trouble but rallies back
Just when it looked as if the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT car was cruising on to an easy victory, trouble struck late in the race. With 30 just under laps remaining the BRZ's pace suddenly dropped to the 2-min. 9- to 10-sec. range. The right side of the car's defuser that had sustained damage in a light collision with a GT500 machine in the early stages of the race was causing the aerodynamics to go out of whack, and there was also damage to a tire. Seeing this, the GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW (Taniguchi) and OKINAWA-IMP SLS (Gamou) running in 2nd and 3rd respectively had picked up their pace to the 2-min. 5-sec. range and were gaining on the BRZ at a rate of 3 or 4 sec. per lap. This forced the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT team to make an emergency pit stop. The team refueled, changed the two rear tires and removed the broken aerodynamic parts that had been flapping, all in the space of 28 seconds, and got Sasaki back into the race. Still, this cost enough time to let the GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW into the lead, by a mere 2 seconds. Turning out laps now in the 2-min. 3- to 4-sec. range, Sasaki chased Taniguchi in the leading BMW. With 14 laps remaining in the race, Sasaki (BRZ) drew side-by-side with Taniguchi (BMW) at the exit of the hairpin turn and passed him just before the spoon. Back in the lead once again, the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Sasaki) ran on to victory. It was a momentous first win for the BRZ in its second year of GT competition.

The No.4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW finished 2nd and the No.52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS and No.62 LEON SLS finished 3rd and 4th respectively. Finishing 5th after a difficult race that included a heavy load of handicap weights and having to start from 14th position on the grid was the No.16 MUGEN CR-Z GT (Hideki Mutoh/Yuhki Nakayama). This finish kept the No.16 pair atop the point standings. With its victory in this race, the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki) moved up to 2nd place in the standings.

After finishing the race in 2nd place, a technical violation was found in the No.4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW car in the post-race inspection (restrictor violation) that disqualified it.

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