The HIS Advan Kondo GT-R team with Joao Paolo de Oliveira and Hironobu Yasuda behind the wheel avoided all the spins and collisions created by heavy rainstorms at the beginning of the race to claim victory at the opening round of the Super GT series yesterday. This marks the second year in a row where the HIS Advan Kondo GT-R team has posted an opening round win in the Super GT series.
After a long off-season wait, some 31,000 race fans were on hand for the opening round of the Super GT season despite dark clouds overhead and occasional heavy rain. Spinning cars and contact were common at the beginning of the race in the heavy rain but Oliveira avoided all the carnage in his #24 GT-R and moved from 10th to 4th position by lap 2 in a car that had taken all night to rebuild after a crash in qualifying the previous day. After a brief Safety Car session Oliveira engaged in a fierce battle with the #6 and #1 SC430s as the difficult conditions continued with more rain falling. As the bulk of the cars made their pit stops Oliveira took over the lead and was able to extend it until he pitted several laps later to switch drivers. The team decided to keep the same tires so a quick pit stop saw Yasuda take over driving and he never let anyone get close until he took the checker flag at the end of 52 laps.
Despite qualifying higher up the grid the other Nissan GT-Rs in the race ran into troubles. The #23 Motul Autech GT-R of Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer spun off the track in the first turn in the heaviest rain and required an early pit stop but finished 8th to accrue valuable championship points. The #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli also spun off the track at the first turn and was able to return to the race but retired on the 10th lap with mechanical issues.
#24 GT-R driver Joao Paolo de Oliveira’s comments:
“After crashing and breaking the car yesterday, I was really eager to somehow make a recovery. In addition, because we chose to run on hard compound tires, it was difficult to generate heat in the early stages, which really restricted us. Being able to come away from here with a win is excellent. I’d like to extend a special thanks to the mechanics for working all night to fix the car.”
#24 GT-R driver Hironobu Yasuda’s comments:
“Because the tires worked so well in the morning’s free practice session, team director Kondo determined that we would be able to run without changing tires in the race. It worked perfectly. In the first half, it was difficult to gain position, but I have to tip my hat to J.P. (de Oliveira) for taking care of the tires throughout his stint. As for my laps in the car, of course the tires, the chassis and engine all worked well. To win the opening round makes me incredibly happy.”
The next round of the Super GT series takes place Apr. 3 – 4 at the Okayama International Circuit