The next installment in our 2016 Super GT Race Analysis series looks at the second race from Fuji Speedway this season, the Fuji GT 300km Race, held on August 7, 2016.
Second-generation Scottish racing driver Sean Walkinshaw has been confirmed as the second driver of the #55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri in the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, joining veteran ARTA driver Shinichi Takagi for his first season in Super GT.
The youngest son of the legendary driver and team principal Tom Walkinshaw was confirmed Monday morning when the GT Association released its preliminary team and driver list, bringing with him experience in the Blancpain GT Series, Formula Renault, Euroformula Open, and BRDC British Formula 3 categories to his credit.
Despite a late-race charge from Jann Mardenborough’s #3 B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R in the closing laps of the race, a bold pit strategy and a composed, defensive drive helped the #25 VivaC Team Samurai Toyota 86 MC of Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui win the GT300 class in the Buriram Super GT Race at Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand.
It was a much-needed first victory of the season for VivaC Team Samurai, from their third pole position of the 2016 season. But early on, it looked as if they were to suffer a repeat of their 2015 race misfortunes, as they quickly fell behind the #3 B-Max GT-R (Mardenborough/Kazuki Hoshino) and the #0 Gainer Tanax GT-R (Andre Couto/Ryuichiro Tomita).
That’s when VivaC Team Samurai elected to go for a fuel-only stop on lap 26, when Tsuchiya handed the car over to Matsui, and gained valuable track position over the B-Max GT-R with a lightning-fast 21 second pit stop. The B-Max GT-R pitted four laps earlier, with Hoshino yielding to Mardenborough. Unlike most of the other teams, they elected to take on fresh Yokohama tyres on their stop, and the chase began.
The battle for GT300 class victory in the fourth race of the Autobacs Super GT Series came down to a frantic dash to the line, and in the end, the #55 Autobacs Racing Team Aguri BMW M6 of Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi came through to cap off a perfect weekend with a narrow victory in a memorable sequence of final laps.
The ARTA M6 beat the #21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS of Tomonobu Fujii and Richard Lyons to the line by a margin of just 0.106 seconds, with Kobayashi holding Lyons off in the closest GT300 finish in Super GT history.