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Astemo Real Racing Wins Another Epic SUPER GT Sugo Race


The #17 Astemo Honda NSX-GT of Koudai Tsukakoshi and Nobuharu Matsushita drove to a fantastic victory in the GT500 class, the first win of the year for Real Racing and a critical victory which interjects Tsukakoshi and Matsushita squarely into the championship battle with two races left in the 2023 Autobacs SUPER GT Series.

Tsukakoshi took the lead initially after a blistering pit stop from the Real Racing crew, to get ahead of the pole-winning #8 ARTA NSX-GT.

The race took a horrid turn halfway through, however, when a cross-class collision between the #100 Stanley NSX-GT of Naoki Yamamoto and the #56 Realize/Nissan Mechanic Challenge GT-R of Teppei Natori on the front stretch sent Yamamoto’s car spearing into the guardrail, destroying all but the monocoque of the Stanley NSX.

Yamamoto was able to radio to his team that he was safe. The 35-year-old, two-time GT500 Champion was later airlifted to a local hospital in the Sendai area for further evaluation, but he is awake and alert, and able to move his limbs according to an official statement from the GT Association (GTA).

For the fourth time this year, the race was red-flagged. João Paulo de Oliveira would take over the damaged #56 Realize GT-R, but he’d have to serve two drive-through penalties during the race – one for Natori’s collision with Yamamoto, and the other for himself, when he touched the car during the red flag period.

The #8 ARTA NSX retook the lead on lap 52 when Oyu dove past Tsukakoshi into turn one. But Tsukakoshi stuck with Oyu, and with nine laps left, the two leading Hondas split either side of a slower GT500 car – Oyu went to the left, Tsukakoshi went to the right, and Tsukakoshi went past and drove off into the lead.

Despite Oyu’s pace falling off towards the end, he and Tomoki Nojiri were still able to hold on to second place, ahead of the #23 Motul Autech Nissan Z (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) in third, avenging their disqualification at Suzuka.

Tsukakoshi and Matsushita are now just one point behind championship leaders Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi, who finished a hard-fought tenth place in the #3 Niterra Motul Z; the #36 au TOM’s Toyota GR Supra of Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata fought back late to finish eighth, and close to within two points of Chiyo and Takaboshi in the standings.

GT300 delivered an incredible finish as the #18 UPGarage Honda NSX GT3 of Takashi Kobayashi and Syun Koide won it, at the line, when the leading #52 Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave GR Supra (Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) ran out of fuel on the final lap!

An aggressive undercut put Yoshida in the lead, but a 56-lap stint on a single tank of fuel was too much to ask of the GreenBrave Supra. Kobayashi drove past over the crest on the front stretch, and from over six seconds behind at the start of the last lap, he won it by eight-tenths of a second.

It’s the third win of 2023 for Kobayashi and Koide, the first three-win season in GT300 for a single team and driver combination since 2011. They’ve taken a commanding 15-point lead in the championship over Yoshida and Kawaai, who consolidated a second-place finish.

SHADE Racing scored its first SUPER GT podium as the #20 Toyota GR86 (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Eijiro Shimizu) finished third.

SUPER GT will exit Mamono’s domain at Sugo and head over 1,500 kilometres southwest to Autopolis for the penultimate round of the season, a 450km race on 14-15 October.

More to follow

Feature image © GTA

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