Super GT Round 8 – Weider HSV-010 Takes the Title by Finishing 2nd

It was the winner of this race, Juichi Wakisaka of the No.1 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 team, and the 2nd place finisher and season title winner Takashi Kogure of the No.18 Weider HSV-010 team who thrilled the fans gathered here at Motegi for this final contest of the 2010 season with the memorable battle they staged over the second half of the race. As the second stint drivers for their respective teams, these two ace drivers were pitted against each other is a tense, close-fought battle that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats right down to the closing seconds.

Although 2nd place was all he needed to clinch the season title, Kogure never let up the pressure as he stalked Wakisaka, waiting for his chance to steal the lead. As for Wakisaka, he fought a fair fight throughout, even though the two machines bumped each other at times in the heat of the competition. It was truly a showdown that will live on in the annals of GT history as a clash of the competitive spirit of two titans of the race arena.

The race began exactly at 14:00 under cloudy skies. The cars went into the first corner roughly in their grid order with pole-sitter Loic Duval leading in car No. 18. That changed on lap three when the No. 6 ENEOS SC430 (Bjorn Wirdheim) running in 2nd place was given a 20-second penalty stop. Wirdheim had gone through a red light at the exit to the pit road while heading to the grid before the start of the race.

This all but eliminated the title chances of the 2nd ranked No. 6 team and appeared to take considerable pressure of No.18 all at once. However, Andre Lotterer in the No. 1 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 had other ideas as he charged hard in pursuit of the leader. Lotterer had passed the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) on the opening lap, and with the penalty on No. 6 he stood in 3rd position. On lap 14 he dispatched the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Toshihiro Kaneishi) and headed off in pursuit of No. 18. On the first corner of lap 19 Lotterer (No. 1) made a move on No. 18 (Duval). Without making any undue effort to block Lotterer’s path, Duval let the No. 1 car past and into the lead.

Car No. 1 was the first of the two to make its pit stop, with Duval bringing his car No. 18 into the pit a lap later. The No. 1 team was about two seconds faster in its pit work, which meant that the two machines returned to the track with No. 1 in the lead and Juichi Wakisaka at the wheel. Meanwhile, Takashi Kogure took the wheel of car No.18. By the time all of the cars had finished their pit stops and returned to the track, No.1 (Wakisaka) was in the lead with No. 18 (Kogure) once again in 2nd place. From this point began the most memorable battle of the 2010 season. On the first corner of lap 36, Kogure in car No. 18 moved up on the outside and pulled alongside Wakisaka (No. 1) and stayed there through the second corner and headed toward the third corner. The two machines bumped each other lightly as they ran side-by-side, but they kept the fight fair with neither trying to push the other off the track. Eventually, Wakisaka in car No. 1 emerged the winner of this skirmish but Kogure (No. 18) remained undaunted as he continued to stalk the leader. The close-fought skirmishes continued this way right down to the final lap. Coming out of the last turn of that final lap Kogure (No.18) made one last attempt to pass car No.1 but Wakisaka held him off to take the checkered and the win. For the No.1 PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 team (Juichi Wakisaka/Andre Lotterer), it was their first win of the season.

By finishing 2nd the No. 18 Weider HSV-010 team (Takashi Kogure/Loic Duval) were able to defend their lead in the season’s ranking and win the Driver title. Also, the Team title went to the Weider Honda Racing team. Finishing 3rd in the race was the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Toshihiro Kaneishi/Koudai Tsukakoshi), which has started the race on the 3rd grid position. This team’s strategy had been to save time in the pit by changing only the two rear tires in order to catch the two lead machines, but the gap was too great. Fourth place went to the No. 35 MJ KRAFT SC430 (Hiroaki Ishiura/Kazuya Oshima) while the No. 12 CALSONICIMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarell) became the first of the GT-R finishers in 5th place.

In the GT300 race, the pole-starting No. 3 TOMICA Z (Kazuki Hoshino/Masataka Yanagida) took its first victory of the season without actually giving up the lead once in the race. With this win Hoshino and Yanagida claimed the 2010 GT300 Driver title for themselves. The Hasemi Motor Sports team also won the Team title.

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