The #37 KeePer TOM’s LC500 of Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy took a historic victory to open the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series at Okayama International Circuit.
In a calamitous race that saw three Honda NSX-GTs break down before the first lap and a delayed start, the #37 KeePer LC500 held off all challenges to take the victory – and headed up a historic 1-2-3-4-5-6 finish for Lexus, the first time in Super GT history that a manufacturer has swept the top six places in any class in a race.
Cassidy becomes the first-ever Super GT race winner from the nation of New Zealand, and for Red Bull, it’s a winning debut as the sponsor of their driver Hirakawa and the #37 TOM’s team who have now won Okayama three times in the last four years.
In GT300, the #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) broke a three-year winless drought to take their first victory with Mercedes, their first since the 2014 Fuji GT 500km Race. The #65 LEON Cvstos AMG finished second after a tremendous, heated battle with the #25 VivaC Toyota 86 MC for most of the race.
However, the mood of the race was deafened by a heavy crash on lap 54 involving three-time GT300 champion Morio Nitta in his #50 INGING & Arnage Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. Nitta crashed at the concrete barriers at Williams Corner (Turn 2) after sideswiping the #64 Epson NSX-GT, and after being extricated from his car, was taken to a nearby hospital via ambulance during a lengthy safety car period.
Any further, official updates on Nitta’s condition will be made available when we get them.
UPDATE: Arnage Racing, in an official statement made on social media, confirmed that Morio Nitta was okay, and not seriously injured in the accident on lap 54.
Full reports will be available by Monday, April 10th for both GT500 and GT300 classes.