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Calsonic Impul GT-R claims 2008 Super GT Final Race

Calsonic Impul GT-R claims 2008 Super GT Final Race image

Text: / Photos: | posted June 26, 2006 07:00

Nissan GT-R claims seventh record victory of a single make in a season

A light rain began to fall just before the cars took to the starting grid, causing many teams to switch to light-rain type shallow-groove tires on the grid. In contrast, two teams in the GT500 class, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) and the DENSO DUNLOP SARD SC430 (Andre Couto) chose to bet on slick tires.

The formation lap, which is normal only a one-lap run, was extended to two in order to allow for better tire warm-up due to the extremely low track surface temperature.

At the start there was a reverse in positions between the ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman) and the WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R (J.P.L. De Oliveira), but that was about the only change of note during the opening lap. On lap two, however, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm) would make a quick stop to the pits for a change to slick tires as the track had apparently dried enough. One team after another returned to the pit to change to slick tires, bringing big changes in the order of the leaders. Matsuda and Couto emerged as the new leaders.

Far behind them came the XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Benoit Treluyer) after a very fast tire change, but it was unable to pick up the pace due to the heavy load of handicap weights it was carrying. Soon it would be passed by De Oliveira. But, De Olveira would suddenly lose speed on lap 16 and return to the pit with driveshaft trouble requiring extensive repair work.

Treluyer continued to lose ground gradually after that. Seeing this, the team called Treluyer back to the pit on lap 23, just after the 1/3 point in the race required for a driver change. With a tire change and change of drivers to Satoshi Motoyama, Xanavi NISMO GT-R returned to the race. Also, Couto, who was running in 2nd place at this point, pulled in for a pit stop on lap 27 and changed drivers to Toranosuke Takagi.

Rain began to fall again, making it hard to maintain fast lap times with slick tires. Seeing this, the ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Richard Lyons > Yuji Tachikawa) and the PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Andre Lotterer > Juichi Wakisaka) switched to shallow groove rain tires while also performing their routine pit work. Despite having just finished its pit stop, Motoyama returned to the pit again to change to rain tires as a safety measure.

The leader, Matsuda made his pit stop just at the race's halfway point on lap 33, changing drivers to Sebastien Philippe and switching to rain tires. At this point all the cars had finished their pit stops. In the lead was still the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R driven with a 40-second gap over the houzan KRAFT SC430 (Tatsuya Kataoka > Peter Dumbreck) in 2nd place.

Takuya Izawa was running in third position in the ARTA NSX but unable to maintain a fast enough pace. Likewise, the TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure > Ryo Michigami) and the REAL NSX (Toshihiro Kaneishi > Katsutomo Kaneishi) were running at very slow paces as well because of the tires chosen by the NSX teams which did not fit the cool, wet track conditions. This allowed the ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Tachikawa) to move up to 3rd position and the ENEOS SC430 (Bjorn Wirdheim > Daisuke Ito) to move into 4th position.

Later on, Dumbreck in the housan KRAFT SC430 made a mistake in the hairpin of lap 48 letting both Tachikawa and Ito get past him. By moving into 2nd place, and with the XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Motoyama) running out of the point range, Tachikawa had a chance at winning the race and enough points to take the hotly contested season's driver title in a big come-from-behind upset.

Although it would be very difficult for Tachikawa to catch the leader, Philippe, who still had about 40 seconds ahead with just over 10 laps to go, he pushed hard, determined not to give up his title hopes. Gradually the gap between the two machines narrowed to within 20 sec. as the race entered the final five laps. At this rate there was still a chance to grab the title. But time would run out, and the race finished with still a 16-sec. gap remaining between the two leaders. Tachikawa had come close but failed to win.

As the checkered flag dropped, the victory went to the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Sebastien Philippe). It was the team's second win of the season, following the Pokka 1000km (round 6), and for the Nissan GT-R it was the seventh victory of the season, a new record for most season wins by a single make. Second place went to the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa/Richard Lyons) and 3rd to the No. 6 ENEOS SC430 (Daisuke Ito/Bjorn Wirdheim). For Ito, this podium finish came in his first race back from injury.

Further back in the field, Satoshi Motoyama in car No. 23 moved into 9th place by passing car No. 1 (Izawa), which had fallen off the pace. This finish was enough to win the pair of Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer the season's driver title. The team title went to the No. 36 PETRONAS TOYOTA TEAM TOM'S team, which finished the race 7th.