Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli take their first win of the season in the bright red Motul Autech Nismo GT-R, holding off the hordes of Lexus that were in a relentless pursuit.
The weekend had a challenging start, with weather conditions at the foot of Mount Fuji constantly changing but come raceday everything cleared up and made for perfect racing conditions. After a challenging qualifying the Motul Autech crew secured a respectable third spot on the grid. With the green flag dropped, Ronnie Quintarelli didn’t even need a full lap to push through to the lead of the race.
However, due to fierce competition, Ronnie could not hold on to his lead and lost his first place to the #39 Lexus LC500, but kept trailing it by only a second. After the first pitstop, Tsugio Matsuda got caught up in the slower GT300 field during a yellow flag situation and lost precious time, now chasing the leader by a hefty six seconds. Matsuda gave it is all and by the time the GT-R entered the pits for its second stop, the difference was narrowed down to only four seconds. But then the Motul Autech pit crew worked its magic and when exiting the pits, Quintarelli, who took the wheel again, came out in front with a 2.2 second lead and kept pulling away until the chequered flag.
Comment from Tsugio Matsuda
“I was unlucky and became entangled with the GT300 class vehicles at the yellow flag section, which caused our gap with the leader to expand. However, I was told over the radio, “If you can just close in, we can achieve a reversal” and so on the in-lap I pushed right up to the limit in order reduce the difference as much as possible before going into the pits. We were able to win thanks to the efforts of Ronnie and everyone on the team. I never thought that one day I could achieve 20 wins. At least half of this victory comes down to Ronnie. There were probably a few areas where we got lucky, so I want to put in even more effort to increase the number of future victories.”
Comment from Ronnie Quintarelli
“At the beginning I was focused on avoiding a reoccurrence of what happened at Okayama but I was still able to achieve a good start. I thought, “I have to pull out in front” as I headed into the first corner. With that I was able to pass one rival and then battle it out to take the lead before the first lap was over. I also managed to continue attacking right until the final lap of the last stint, but I didn’t think that I would build up a margin as big as this. I’m really happy that I was able to drive with confidence right up until the end and take the win.”
© Frederik Herregods