One week after Lexus Gazoo Racing swept the podium at the Super GT Fuji GT 500km Race on May 4, two Lexus GT500 drivers split the weekend winnings at Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2017 Inter Proto Series at Fuji Speedway, part of the Fuji Champion Race Series.
Lexus Team KeePer TOM’s driver Nick Cassidy took victory in his IPS debut in Race 1 on Sunday, and Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh driver Yuhi Sekiguchi took the win in Race 2 for the Professional Class drivers.
After pole sitter Kenta Yamashita stalled on the dummy grid for Round 1, defending IPS champion Yuichi Nakayama was moved up to the front of the field to take the green flag for the first 6-lap sprint.
Cassidy, who started second, was able to move past Nakayama for the lead halfway through the race, and withstood the pressure from both Nakayama and Tsugio Matsuda over the final three laps to take the win in his first Inter Proto Series race, the top three covered by 0.7 seconds.
In Round 2, Cassidy started from pole position for winning Round 1, but Yuhi Sekiguchi made his way up through from fourth place, into the lead at the end of the second lap.
Sekguchi and Matsuda began to break away from the rest of the field as Cassidy and Sho Tsuboi became embroiled in a battle for third, which ended with Tsuboi being spun out at Advan Corner (Turn 6).
Sekiguchi eventually held on to win the 8-lap race ahead of Matsuda by just 0.851 seconds. Cassidy finished third on the road, but after both he and Kenta Yamashita were given 30 second time penalties for avoidable contact, Ronnie Quintarelli was promoted to third place.
In the Lexus IS F CCS-R class that raced with the IPS Professional Class, Ryohei Sakaguchi won Round 1, and former GT300 champion Tatsuya Kataoka took the win in Round 2.
In the Gentleman & Expert Class IPS races, “Motor Mouse” swept the weekend with two victories in as many races in the #4 car he shares with Cassidy.
And in the debut race for the all-female KYOJO Joshi Cup, Miki Koyama took a ¥300,000 prize as the winner of the first event for the one-make race series. Ayaka Imahashi finished 2nd, and Ai Koizumi finished in third place.
The Inter Proto Series and KYOJO Joshi Cup will both take a long hiatus before returning in September for the next rounds of their respective championships.