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OPEN INTERFACE TOM'S SC430 (Wakisaka-Lotterer) Clinch Season Opener

GT500

While the sky was not threatening when the race started at 14:30, a cold wind had been blowing since morning and grew consistently stronger in the afternoon. As the machines took to the track for the formation lap, feelings were uneasy about the unstable weather front, and the clouds drifting through occasionally dropped rain mixed with snow. The engine of the No.2 car of Privee Zurich/Apple Shiden, 6th on the grid in the GT300 class, failed to start for the formation lap and had to start from the pit.
Ford GT arrived Friday, but machine could not be completed before qualifying, ending chances to run on the weekend.

The No.12 Calsonic IMPUL Z went off the course at the 1st Corner just after the start. Hoshino (leadoff driver) was able to maintain control and return to the track, but running last in the GT500 class. At the end of the opening lap, the field standing was the pole sitter No.8 ARTA NSX driven by Ralph Firman in the lead, followed by Lotterer in the No.36 OPEN INTERFACE TOM'S SC430, Ryo Michigami in the No.18 TAKATA Dome NSX, Satoshi Motoyama in the No.23 XANAVI NISMO Z, Yuji Tachikawa in the No.1 ZENT Cerumo SC and Sakon Yamamoto in the No.22 MOTUL AUTECH Z, making up the front pack.

On the second lap, the No.32 Honda went wide going into the 1st Corner and went wide out into the course-side gravel. The machine was able to return to the track, but not before loosing precious time. The gap between the No.8 ARTA NSX and second-running No.36 car gradually closed, and by this time was down to a nose-to-tail fight for the lead. In the 8th lap, the No.23 Nissan running in 4th became cornered in by back runners and was passed by the No.1 and No.22 cars. Then on the 17th lap, the No.1 Lexus came dangerously close to the No.18 NSX in the Hairpin Corner, cut across the running line of the NSX and finally overtaking and moving into 3rd in the next corner. The No.22 Nissan also moved in on the No.18 car, and slipped past the No.18 car going through a straight on lap 20. After 20 laps, the top five runners were No.8, No.36, No.1, No.22 and No.18 in that order. The No.23 car, after getting out the back market traffic, picked up pace and was closing in on the No.18 car. At the end of the 21st lap, the first car in the GT500 class to pit for the routine stop was Akira Iida in the No.6 Mobil 1 SC, who turned over the wheel to Tatsuya Kataoka. Meanwhile, the No.8 NSX and No.36 Lexus ensued a battle for the front n the 22nd lap, Lotterer finally passing Firman on the outside at the Spoon Curve to take the lead. The No.1 car overtook the No.18 car on lap 23, and then Firman went into for the routine pit stop on the next lap. As Yamamoto took the No.22 car into the pits, he went into a spin entering the pit lane, loosing much time. The No.36 and No.1 cars, leading the field, choose to pit in at the same time at the end of the 24th lap.

Juichi Wakisaka took over the wheel of the No.36, the driver change going smoothly and the car re-entering the track in good time. But the No.1 car lost several seconds in pit work time. Second driver Toranosuke Takagi went out onto the track, but possibly feeling an urgent need to make up time, overran in the 1st Corner, dropping far behind. When the pit stops of the top runners were finally over, the top three on the course were No.36 (Wakisaka), No.8 (Daisuke Ito) and No.23 (Tsugio Matsuda).

Ito lapped increasingly faster over the next 7-8 laps to close the gap on Wakisaka. Matsuda too drove hard, inching up on the No.8 car little by little. On lap 42, he caught Ito in the Chicane, and braking at the last possible second slipped by inside the No.8 car to move into second. The overtake point was a bit risky and a daring move, but a truly magnificent pass executed without incident.

With 10 laps left, Matsuda set his eyes on catching the No.36 car at the head of the field. The gap between the two cars opened and closed as they came up on and passed back markers, the difference between the two of them falling to as little as 0.3sec at times. But Wakisaka did well to not let down his guard, and with only two laps to go, he built up a 1.5sec gap and kept the lead to the checkered flag.

At the end of the 52 laps, the No.36 OPEN INTERFACE TOM'S SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka/Andre Lotterer) crossed the finish line first, followed in 2nd by the No.23 XANAVI NISMO Z (Satoshi Motoyama/Tsugio Matsuda) and 3rd the No.8 ARTA NSX (Daisuke Ito/Ralph Firman). The first three podium places of the season going to three different car makes, Lexus SC430, Fairlady Z and Honda NSX.

Juichi Wakisaka
We knew that the car would be faster than our rivals' on the straights, and were able to take good advantage of this. The understeer was terrible, but thanks to the excellent drive by Andre today, we were encouraged and stayed focused on winning. This victory is due to the results of an all-around effort by the team, Toyota and everyone involved.

Andre Lotterer
Always the best situation for everybody to be in first place but I was, honestly to say, surprised because I was quite happy with Juchi's job and qualifying and I started from fifth and we always worry about performance. We were working a lot and I was thinking to keep my position and Hondas were really so strong. We made a really good change last night and I did a great start and I was able to do a really strong race and place the car at the first place and he did a good job as well. And for me it is a new team, so to start the season like that...

the winner


4th place


6th place


12th place


14th place


GT300

In the GT300 class, the pole position sitter, No.46 Kichouhouzan DIREZZA Z (leadoff driver Kota Sasaki) slowly lost position from the onset, the lead being taken by two Lamborghinis, the No.87 TRIKE Murcie RG-1 driven by Koji Yamanashi and the No.88 AKTIO Murcie RG-1 driven by Marco Apicella. Behind them, a fight for 3rd place developed between the No.13 ENDLESS ADVAN CCI Z (Masami Kageyama) and No.7 Amamiya Aspara Drink RX7 (Hiroyuki Iiri). But after a driver change where Tomonobu Fujii took the wheel from Kageyama, the No.13 car went off the course.

The GT300 class leaders, No.87 in front and No.88 running in 2nd, did their routine pit stops one after another; the No.87 car pitting first and the No.88 car pitting one lap later. The No.87 car experienced a problem as WADA-Q took over the drive; the machine being momentarily blocked by the car pitting in the next garage, causing an excessive loss of time. The No.88 car (Yasutaka Hinoi) went in and returned to the track without incident, thereby taking the lead and putting the No.87 machine in 2nd. It appeared that the leaders would finish in this order, but with just one lap remaining, the No.87 car suddenly entered its pit presumably due to worries of fuel shortage. Following a quick check-and-go stop, the car returned to the track. But the problem was not resolved, and the car failed to complete the final lap. The No.7 car driven by Tetsuya Yamano moved into 2nd and the No.110 TOTALBENEFIT GREENTEC BOXSTER (Hideshi Matsuda/Ichijyo Suga), after running a steady 4th-5th throughout the race, was 3rd.

At the checkered flag for the GT300 class it was the No.88 AKTIO Murcie RG-1 (Marco Apicella/Yasutaka Hinoi) as the victor, the No.7 Amamiya Aspara Drink RX7 (Tetsuya Yamano/Hiroyuki Iiri) in 2nd and No.110 TOTAL BENEFIT GREENTEC BOXSTER (Hideshi Matsuda/Ichijyo Suga) in 3rd. Even though the No.87 TRIKE Murcie RG-1 (Koji Yamanashi/WADA-Q) did not finish after stopping on the final lap, a 5th place finish was awarded.

The JLOC has participated in the JGTC since the inauguration of the series in 1994, and this is its first win. It is also the first win in the world for the Lamborghini Murcierago.

Marco Apicella
Arigato Gozaimasu. I'm the happiest man in the world at the moment. The car was really good today and also yesterday in the rain. We already understood at the start of the season that the car could be quick in this class. but actually we did not really expect to win the first race of the season. This happened and we are really euphoric.

Yasutaka Hinoi
I joined the team from this year, and I really need to apologize to all the veteran drivers out there... I feel bad for winning before you (laugh). In speaking of the team, my aim is to claim the championship of the GT300 class, and I plan to be participating in the LeMans 24 Hours this year. I promise I'll be trying my best.
 

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For those who'd rather read the results:


Race Result
2006-03-19 | Weather: Fine | Course: Dry


1 36 500-1 OPEN INTERFACE TOM'S SC430 Juichi Wakisaka
Andre Lotterer 1:43'40.197 52 1'55.920 BS

2 23 500-2 XANAVI NISMO Z Satoshi Motoyama
Tsugio Matsuda 0'03.412 52 1'56.027 BS

3 8 500-3 ARTA NSX Daisuke Ito
Ralph Firman 0'06.957 52 1'55.969 BS

4 18 500-4 TAKATA DOME NSX Ryo Michigami
Takashi Kogure 0'11.299 52 1'56.348 BS

5 1 500-5 ZENT CERUMO SC Yuji Tachikawa
Toranosuke Takagi 0'28.344 52 1'56.307 BS

6 6 500-6 Mobil 1 SC Akira Iida
Tatsuya Kataoka 0'44.586 52 1'57.269 BS

7 100 500-7 RAYBRIG NSX Sebastien Philippe
Shinya Hosokawa 0'53.470 52 1'56.534 BS

8 25 500-8 ECLIPSE ADVAN SUPRA Manabu Orido
Takeshi Tsuchiya 1'08.973 52 1'57.624 YH

9 3 500-9 YellowHat YMS TOMICA Z Naoki Yokomizo
J.P.Lima De Oliveira 1'11.139 52 1'56.408 BS

10 24 500-10 WOODONE ADVAN KONDO Z Erik Comas
Masataka Yanagida 1'12.822 52 1'57.742 YH

11 66 500-11 triple a SARD SUPRA GT Andre Couto
Katsuyuki Hiranaka 1'26.370 52 1'56.588 BS

12 22 500-12 MOTUL AUTECH Z Michael Krumm
Sakon Yamamoto 1Laps 51 1'56.146 BS

13 12 500-13 CALSONIC IMPUL Z Benoit Treluyer
Kazuki Hoshino 1Laps 51 1'55.758 BS

14 35 500-14 BANDAI DIREZZA SC430 Naoki Hattori
Peter Dumbreck 1Laps 51 1'58.103 DL

15 32 500-15 EPSON NSX Loic Duval
Hideki Mutoh 2Laps 50 1'56.551 DL

16 88 300-1 AKTIO MURCIE RG-1 Marco Apicella
Yasutaka Hinoi 1:44'23.259 48 2'06.923 YH

17 7 300-2 Amemiya AsparaDrink RX7 Tetsuya Yamano
Hiroyuki Iiri 0'26.744 48 2'07.696 YH

18 110 300-3 TOTALBENEFIT GREENTEC BOXSTER Hideshi Matsuda
Ichijo Suga 0'29.171 48 2'07.337 YH

19 19 300-4 WedsSport Celica Koji Matsuda
Shigekazu Wakisaka 1'18.509 48 2'06.547 YH

20 87 300-5 TRIKE MURCIE RG-1 Koji Yamanishi
WADA-Q 1Laps 47 2'05.844 YH

21 2 300-6 Privée Zurich Apple Shiden Kazuho Takahashi
Hiroki Katoh 1Laps 47 2'06.885 YH

22 27 300-7 direxiv ADVAN 320R Shogo Mitsuyama
Nobuteru Taniguchi 1Laps 47 2'07.816 YH

23 96 300-8 EBBRO BTEC MAZIORA 350R Takuya Kurosawa
Tsubasa Kurosawa 1Laps 47 2'09.369 DL

24 14 300-9 HANKOOK ENDLESS PORSCHE Mitsuhiro Kinoshita
Kyosuke Mineo 1Laps 47 2'08.539 HK

25 47 300-10 Kicchouhouzan DIREZZA Z Masaoki Nagashima
Hironobu Yasuda 1Laps 47 2'08.820 DL

26 52 300-11 Proμ TAIYO OIL KUMHO CELICA Hironori Takeuchi
Koki Saga 1Laps 47 2'09.557 KH

27 46 300-12 Kicchouhouzan DIREZZA Z Kota Sasaki
Taku Banba 2Laps 46 2'07.862 DL

28 9 300-13 LeyJun ADVAN Mosler MT OSAMU
Takaya Tsubobayashi 2Laps 46 2'09.546 YH

29 5 300-14 Proμ MACH GOGOGO SHAKEN 320R KYUSYU Tetsuji Tamanaka
Katsuhiko Tsutsui 2Laps 46 2'11.048 YH

30 910 300-15 SENZAIKAKUMEI UEMATSU & ISHIMATSU GT3RSR Tadao Uematsu
Yasushi Kikuchi 2Laps 46 2'10.645 YH

31 13 300-16 ENDLESS ADVAN CCI Z Masami Kageyama
Tomonobu Fujii 2Laps 46 2'07.329 YH

32 70 300-17 Gaishano Gaikokuya ADVAN PORSCHE Yoshimi Ishibashi
Akira Hirakawa 2Laps 46 2'11.068 YH

33 62 300-18 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC408R Shinsuke Shibahara
Hiroyuki Yagi 3Laps 45 2'07.172 YH

34 10 300-19 T&G FACE NETWORK DUNLOP F360 Hiromi
Naofumi Omoto 4Laps 44 2'11.166 DL


Classified (GT500 : 36Laps / GT300 : 33Laps)


777 300 Ryozanpaku apr MR-S Minoru Tanaka
Kazuya Oshima 21Laps 27 2'09.027 MI


666 300 LifeWork BOMEX APPLE NSX Shogo Suho
Junichiro Yamashita 31Laps 17 2'12.781 YH


101 300 TOY STORY Racing MR-S Morio Nitta
Shinichi Takagi 33Laps 15 2'09.606 MI


11 300 JIM CENTER FERRARI DUNLOP Tetsuya Tanaka
Takayuki Aoki 43Laps 5 2'07.848 DL


111 300 ARKTECH GT3 Hiroya Iijima
Guts Jyonai 44Laps 4 2'18.163 YH


Start: 14:35'01 / Finish: 16:18'41

Tire = BS:Bridgestone / DL:Dunlop / HK:Hankook / KH:Kumho / MI:Michelin / YH:Yokohama




Fastest Lap :
GT500 : 1'55.758 (B.Treluyer / No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z)
GT300 : 2'05.844 (K.Yamanishi / TRIKE MURCIE RG-1)
 
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