2016: A year of Milestones

As Super GT concluded its twenty-third full season, the history books have already begun to fill with significant records and landmark milestones for manufacturers, drivers, teams, and events.

So as the page turns on the calendar from 2016 to 2017, we looked upon the important milestones that were reached in the 2016 Autobacs Super GT Series, including a record winning streak and the crowning of a new all-time wins leader in GT500.

Nissan wins Okayama SUPER GT with championship-winning duo

An #OMGTR Quadfecta

Nissan has been the dominant manufacturer of the current 2-liter turbo era of GT500, winning 12 out of 24 races since 2014, but their four-race winning streak to open the 2016 season set a new record for the most outstanding start by any manufacturer in GT500 history.

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Defending champions NISMO opened the season with consecutive victories, first at Okayama International Circuit, then at the Fuji 500km GT Race.

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Kondo Racing’s victory at Sportsland Sugo clinched a new record for the most wins to open the season, with Nissan’s third in a row in 2016…

Calsonic Impul GT-R achieves lights to flag at Fuji Speedway

And the incredible streak wrapped up with a victory from Calsonic Team Impul at the 300km race at Fuji Speedway. It’s the longest season-opening winning streak for a single manufacturer in the premier category.


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Matsuda becomes GT500’s Victory King

The 2016 season began with three drivers tied for the all-time lead in career GT500 class victories: Satoshi Motoyama, Yuji Tachikawa, and Tsugio Matsuda each standing at 16 career victories.

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By winning the first race of the season at Okayama, Matsuda took sole possession of the all-time lead with his 17th career victory – the first driver other than Motoyama or Tachikawa to hold the record in over a decade. He then extended his newly-won record by taking his 18th career win at Fuji Speedway.

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Meanwhile, his co-driver Quintarelli, already a history maker as the only four-time GT500 champion in history, moved to 12 career victories this season, tying Ralph Firman and Benoît Tréluyer for the all-time lead for career GT500 race wins by a foreign driver.

GT500 CAREER WINS LEADERS

1st: Tsugio Matsuda – 18 wins
2nd: Yuji Tachikawa – 17 wins
3rd: Satoshi Motoyama – 16 wins
T-4: Ronnie Quintarelli – 12 wins
T-4: Daisuke Ito – 12 wins
T-4: Ralph Firman – 12 wins
T-4: Benoît Tréluyer – 12 wins


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Lexus’ Motegi Grand Final Perfection

In the jubilation of celebrating Lexus Team SARD’s championship-clinching victory at the last race of the season at Twin Ring Motegi, Lexus Gazoo Racing quietly achieved the very first-ever sweep of the top five places in Super GT history in a dominant performance.

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There have been eleven podium sweeps in GT500 history, and three previous instances where Toyota/Lexus have locked out the top four positions in a race, but this is the first race in the 23-year history of Super GT that a single manufacturer swept the entire top five.

ALL-TIME GT500 PODIUM SWEEPS

1995 Fuji Special GT Cup – Nissan
1997 Fuji Special GT Cup – Toyota
2001 Okayama GT Race – Honda
2004 Sugo GT Race – Toyota
2005 Sugo GT Race – Toyota (Top 4)
2006 Fuji 500km – Lexus
2007 Sugo GT Race – Honda
2010 Fuji 400km – Lexus (Top 4)
2013 Fuji 500km – Lexus (Top 4)
2014 Autopolis GT Race – Nissan
2016 Motegi GT Grand Final II – Lexus (TOP 5)

(For those curious: There has not been a GT300 podium sweep since the 2000 Miné GT Race, when Porsche took a 1-2-3 finish.)


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Celebrating Longevity and Perseverance

On the eve of the final race of the 2016 season, the GT-Association and GTA president Masaaki Bandoh formally recognized three active drivers for competing in their 100th career race: Takashi Kogure (Real Racing), Haruki Kurosawa (K2 R&D LEON Racing), and Katsuyuki Hiranaka (Gainer).

In total, 36 JGTC/Super GT drivers have now eclipsed the century mark in terms of races entered.

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But two more drivers joined a more exclusive club in 2016: The 150+ career races club, which welcomed Manabu Orido (JLOC) and Masami Kageyama (Team Mach) to join the series’ two leading iron men: Morio Nitta and Satoshi Motoyama.

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In addition to surpassing 150 career races entered and started, Kageyama also extended his record as the only driver to compete in at least one race of every season of JGTC & Super GT competition, since the series began in 1994.

Yuji Tachikawa and Shinichi Takagi are expected to surpass the 150 race milestone during the 2017 season.

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Finally, Takeshi Tsuchiya’s emotional championship run in his final full season as a racing driver officially confirms his new record for the driver with the most career entries (142), starts (140), and seasons driven (21) before winning their first drivers’ championship in either class. He retires from full-time race driving seventh on the all-time Super GT entry list:

JGTC & SUPER GT CAREER RACE ENTRY LEADERS

1st: Morio Nitta – 162 entries (161 starts)
2nd: Satoshi Motoyama – 159 entries (158 starts)
3rd: Manabu Orido – 155 entries (154 starts)
4th: Masami Kageyama – 152 entries (151 starts)
5th: Yuji Tachikawa – 149 entries (148 starts)
6th: Shinichi Takagi – 146 entries (143 starts)
7th: Takeshi Tsuchiya – 142 entries (140 starts)
8th: Daisuke Ito – 139 entries (138 starts)
9th: Tetsuya Tanaka – 138 entries (137 starts)
10th: Juichi Wakisaka – 137 entries (136 starts)


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Fabulous Firsts

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First Career Wins by Driver, GT500: Yuhi Sekiguchi, Heikki Kovalainen

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First Career Wins by Driver, GT300: Naoya Gamou, Jann Mardenborough, Hideki Yamauchi

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Debut Races: Tadasuke Makino, Jann Mardenborough, Dylan Derdaele, Shinnosuke Yamada, Yuya Motojima, Tsubasa Kondo, Morgan Haber, Hiroaki Nagai, Piti Bhirombhakdi, Rintaro Kubo, Adrian Zaugg, Kei Cozzolino, Jono Lester, Keishi Ishikawa, Shota Kiyohara

First Wins by Car: Audi R8 LMS (2nd generation), BMW M6 GT3, Mercedes-AMG GT3, Toyota Prius GT (XW50)

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First Wins by Team: K2 R&D LEON Racing (GT300), Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh (GT500), Audi Team Hitotsuyama (GT300)


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More Milestones

Heikki Kovalainen, already the first and only Super GT driver from Finland, becomes the first Finnish race winner and series champion in series history.

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Tadasuke Makino, at 19 years, 3 months, and 11 days old, became the youngest GT500 podium finisher in series history, breaking the record previously held by Koji Yamanishi (20 years, 5 months, 11 days).

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Nick Cassidy becomes the first driver from New Zealand to race in the GT500 class, and the first to score a podium finish.

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Matsuda, the aforementioned GT500 wins leader, also holds the current active record for most consecutive winning seasons in the premier class (7).

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Yuhi Sekiguchi holds the longest active streak of consecutive points-scoring finishes (18), dating back to the 2014 season. The all-time record is 33 consecutive points-scoring finishes, held by Takeshi Tsuchiya.

Do you have any more important statistics or milestones from the 2016 Super GT Season to contribute? Please leave us a comment or e-mail us at supergtworld.editor@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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