Tsukakoshi and Kogure seek more Sugo magic

Six years after their unforgettable photo finish at Sportsland Sugo, Keihin Real Racing drivers Koudai Tsukakoshi and Takashi Kogure return to the circuit for the first time as partners, in search of the Keihin NSX’s first victory since that great race.

Tsukakoshi, aboard the Keihin Honda HSV-010, beat the Weider Honda HSV-010 of Kogure by just 0.025 seconds in the 2010 Sugo GT 300km Race. It was the closest finish in Super GT history.

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It was also the first win for Katsutomo Kaneishi’s Real Racing team in GT500, having made incredible progress in just a handful of years since their 2007 debut. For Tsukakoshi, it was his first career GT500 race win, and for his then co-driver Toshihiro Kaneishi, it was his first time back on the top step of the podium since 2004.

Tsukakoshi has remained aboard the Keihin Honda as a full-time driver since 2009. In that time, he’s finished in the top five in the GT500 championship four times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013), with the second place in 2013 being his best so far. He’s recorded 15 podium finishes, two pole positions and a total of five front-row starts. But the victory at Sugo remains his, and the Keihin Real Racing team’s, only Super GT victory.

Their closest call with the elusive second victory came in the season opener at Okayama in 2013, when Kogure, now aboard the Raybrig HSV-010 of Team Kunimitsu, had to fend off Tsukakoshi in the final laps on a damp track.

Only this time, Kogure would deny his Honda adversary the victory – holding on to win by just a half-second.

Kogure is in his first season with Keihin Real Racing, after stints at Nakajima Racing (2003), Dome/Honda (2005-12), Team Kunimitsu (2013-14), and Drago Modulo Honda Racing (2015). With his former rival-turned-co-driver Tsukakoshi, they make up the most experienced driver pairing in the Honda fleet with a combined eighteen full seasons between them.

However, in what has been a dreadful start to the 2016 season for Honda as a whole, Tsukakoshi and Kogure have yet to score a point this season. But with Honda bringing a revised version of their GT500 powerplant to Sugo, and great testing results here in June and at Suzuka in July, there is a renewed confidence that these two drivers can create another magic moment at this great circuit – this time, united as one.

 

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