LEXUS SWEEPS TOP FOUR POSITIONS AT AUTOPOLIS
Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy in the #1 KeePer TOM’S LC 500 climbed steadily from fifth on the grid to win by almost half a second from Yuhi Sekiguchi and Le Mans winner Kazuki Nakajima in the au TOM’S #36 LC 500.
The win was the first this season for the defending champions and puts them level on points at the top of the drivers’ championship standings ahead of the season’s final round at Motegi next month.
Car #19, the WedsSport ADVAN LC 500 of Yuji Kunimoto and Kenta Yamashita, took the final spot on the podium from 10th on the grid while the #38 ZENT CERUMO LC 500 of Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura completed the all-Lexus top four.
Kamui Kobayashi finished eighth in the DENSO KOBELCO SARD Lexus LC 500 shared with Heikki Kovalainen while the WAKO’S 4CR Lexus LC 500 of IndyCar-bound Felix Rosenqvist and Kazuya Oshima finished ninth, giving Lexus six of the top 10 places.
Hirakawa said he had not expected to win after Honda NSX-GT rivals took the top three places in qualifying, but victory had come courtesy of his team’s pit-stop strategy and overall support.
He said he was confident approaching the season finale because the LC 500 had shown its ability to perform well at Motegi.
Lexus also enjoyed success in the GT300 class with Yuichi Nakayama and Morio Nitta securing the top spot in the #96 K-tunes RC F GT3.
The eighth and final round of the Super GT championship will be held at Motegi on November 10-11.
Although racing cars bear little resemblance to their road-going cousins, much of the technology we have come to love, is race bred.