The Super GT Round 6 finals was held at Sportsland SUGO in Miyagi Prefecture on September 20 where VivaC 86 MC driven by Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui emerged victorious in the GT300 Class. This is the first victory for a machine using the mother chassis that was put in use on a full scale beginning this season.
The reason why the GTA has implemented the GT300 Mother Chassis technical regulations is to have the “craftsmanship” of the Japanese racing industry be inherited by having each team develop their machines using a relatively inexpensive mother chassis (common monocoque). Succeeding after his father Haruo of Tsuchiya Engineering, who is known as a master craftsman in the Japanese racing world, the first one who tackled the mother chassis that was fully introduced this season was Takeshi Tsuchiya. Team Manager Haruo also took part in planning the promising system. The #25 VivaC 86 MC (outfitted with Yokohama tires) is a Toyota 86 that uses the mother chassis and participates in the GT300.
Takeshi tackled this project as the team’s racer and engineer with partners, comrades, and his junior Matsui whom he have been working with for at least 10 years now. And now, this is the first victory for a machine that uses the mother chassis. For Tsuchiya, a veteran driver who have been in the forefront of the Formula Nippon (known now as Super Formula) and the GT500, and have won numerous times in the GT300, it is an exceptional thing to win the victory within the first year that the mother chassis technical regulations have been applied fully.
Tsuchiya commented: “Taking the checkered flag this time felt different compared to the other times in the past; I felt delighted. I was so tremendously delighted that I felt that it was okay for me to retire as a driver. Although it will be difficult, I think that leaving the team that I had inherited from my father from the olden days is a good thing.”
Matsui, who won his first GT300 championship, said in retrospect, “Our machine is really well suited to the SUGO course.” He added, “Regarding the judgement when to make a routine pit stop, we had a problem with the radio. When the safety car entered the race track, someone from the pit wrote “if open” on a white board. I entered the pit lane because I thought that it meant that I should enter once the pit lane opened. This is the result of the communication I have with Takeshi and the other team members, all of whom I have been working with for a long time now.”
Takeshi said, “I wrote that on the white board.” He also talked about pit work that led to their victory: “We encountered some issues with the shift as well.” Matsui started second on the grid and was able to extend his lead in the first stint of the race. Tsuchiya praised his junior, “I have been dreaming for a day like this to come. I believe that Takamitsu (Mitsui) brought us this victory.” The challenge, of course, was not just achieving this goal. Nevertheless, this day became memorable for them in many ways as they have achieved a big sense of accomplishment because of the efforts they have given to go towards their dreams, including their daily diligence.
When the safety car entered the track, a traffic congestion occurred at the pit exit for three minutes, which mainly affected the GT300 Class machines. The #55 ARTA CR-Z GT (Shinichi Takagi & Takashi Kobayashi, Bridgestone tires), which started from the pole position, had both good and bad luck when they eventually finished in 12th place, which is already out of the point range. The list below shows the second to sixth finishers in the GT300 class.
2nd place: #31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga & Yuichi Nakayama, Bridgestone tires)
3rd place: #11 GAINER TANAX SLS (Katsuyuki Hiranaka & Bjorn Wirdheim, Dunlop tires)
4th place: #88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido & Kazuki Hiramine, Yokohama tires)
5th place: #61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi & Hideki Yamauchi, Dunlop tires)
6th place: #10 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Andre Couto & Ryuichiro Tomita, Dunlop tires)
The weight handicap of the #10 GT-R driven by the driver ranking’s points leader Andre Couto is calculated to be 138kg. Finishing 6th is a great accomplishment for Couto who started eighth on the grid with 100kg of maximum weight handicap. Couto is still ahead of the pack, leading 25 points (calculated by hand) against the second placer, the #31 Prius’ Saga and Nakayama. It is highly probable that the driver’s title will be decided by the next race. It is also possible that we will see more determination from others in the next race, carrying the fight for the title in the final round of the Super GT.
The seventh round of the Super GT will take place at Autopolis in Kyushu. It will be held from October 31 to November 1.
(Translated by Katherine N. Bantiles)