Super GT

The driver pair of Sasahara and Alesi in the Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra take their first win!

Super GT
2 Jun. 2024 • 16:29
Photo : GTA

Round 3 of the 2024 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the “SUZUKA GT 3Hours RACE” took place at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture (one lap 5,807m × 3 hrs.) on June 2nd (Sun.). In the GT500 class, the No. 37 Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra (Ukyo Sasahara/Giuliano Alesi) that started from pole position would give up the lead to rivals at one point but eventually regain the lead to take a gratifying first win. In the GT300 class, the No. 777 D'station Vantage GT3 (Tomonobu Fujii/Charles Fagg) took an impressive win from pole position.


The Round 3 “SUZUKA GT 3Hours RACE” was held as the second time-limited race of the season. Before the start, rain had been falling, but the weather quickly improved, which enabled the fiercely competed final race to be held with dry track conditions.


Starting from pole position in the GT500 class race, the No. 37 Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra (Ukyo Sasahara/Giuliano Alesi) maintained the lead from the start and ran on at a strong pace. However, while conducting its pit work and driver change on its second pit stop held on the 60th lap, it was passed temporarily by the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Nirei Fukuzumi) that had been pursuing it in 2nd position. This then left No. 37 in pursuit from 2nd position.

However, while car No. 14 was returning to the race after its second pit stop, it got mixed up with the No. 100 STANLEY CIVIC TYPE R-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) that had the right of way in the pit road. Although it fortunately didn’t result in an accident, car No. 14 was given a penalty for the incident and had to run a drive-through penalty that dropped it from 1st place down to 4th place.


This put the No. 37 Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra back in the lead and enabled it to run on to the 3-hour limit with a total of 92 laps to take its first win of the season. For Sasahara and Alesi, it was a rewarding first win in SUPER GT. Finishing in 2nd place after an amazing recovery from its penalty came car No. 14, thus giving the TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 a 1-2 finish. Finishing in 3rd place was the No. 16 ARTA MUGEN CIVIC TYPE R-GT #16 (Hiroki Otsu/Ren Sato), which gave the Honda CIVIC TYPE R-GT its third consecutive podium finish of the season. Finishing in 4th place as fastest among the Nissan Z NISMO GT500 cars was the No. 12 MARELLI IMPUL Z (Kazuki Hiramine/Bertrand Baguette) that had worked its way up consistently through the field from an 8th position grid start.


In the GT300 class race, Tomonobu Fujii started from the class pole position in the No. 777 D'station Vantage GT3 to lead the race in the early stages. In the middle stages of the race Fujii’s teammate Charles Fagg maintained his position completely before returning the wheel to Fujii in the final stages and enabling him to run on to a perfect win. Finishing in 2nd place to take its second podium finish of the season after winning the opening round was the No. 2 muta Racing GR86 GT (Yuui Tsutsumi/Hibiki Taira), while 3rd place went to the No. 6 UNI- ROBO BLUEGRASS FERRARI (Yoshiaki Katayama/Roberto Merhi Muntan), taking its first podium finish of the season.


* Spectators: June 2nd (race day) 25,000 / 1st (qualifying day) 17,500).


Winner Comments


No. 37 Deloitte TOM'S GR Supra [GT500]

Ukyo Sasahara: “(apologizing for the tears in his eyes at winning his first race) I’m really embarrassed. But until now, we had not been unable to win for so long, even after winning pole position.... Finally .... In fact, I ran into some trouble during my second stint (in the middle stages of the race) and I had to struggle, but I was somehow able to maintain the lead. I was hoping that if I could give Giuliano (Alesi) the lead after my stint he could take it on from there. Certainly, car No. 14 was fast, but I think this win was because we were able to drive on with no mistakes, so I am simply very happy with this result.”


Giuliano Alesi: “Ukyo (Sasahara)-san brought us to a good in position from the start of the race, so I thought that the first lap would be important when I drove. Car No. 14 was very fast, but (as a fellow GR Supra) it was unfortunate when they got a penalty. We on the TOM’S team were able to run the two days without any mistakes, and the car was very fast. So, I want to say thanks to the TOM’S fans and the whole TOM’S team! And I also want to say thanks to Ukyo-san for giving us a performance that was stronger than mine!”


No. 777 D'station Vantage GT3 [GT300]

Tomonobu Fujii: “The car’s performance this week was very good, and our Dunlop tires performed especially well. And as well as the drivers, this made us fast in the race and with little tire wear, which enable us to maintain a good and very stable pace. And although we were competing in SUPER GT for the first time in a while, all of the team staff worked hard to prepare for this, and I think that is what brought us this result. So, I want to express my gratitude to everyone involved.”


Charles Fagg: “Arigato (for this first win), Suzuka! Thank you! This was really the greatest. This year, if it weren’t for Fujii-san calling on me, I wouldn’t have even been able to race, and I wouldn’t be here now. I want to sincerely thank him. And I want to thank the team and Dunlop for making this wonderful race possible. I also want to thank my family back at home.”


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