With thanks to our friend and colleague Geinou of RacingBlog.de, who covered this weekend’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) final round and Autobacs Super GT Series Show Run at the Hockenheimring in Badem-Württemberg, Germany, here is the transscript of Sunday morning’s joint press conference by ITR president Gerhard Berger, and GTA chairman Masaaki Bandoh.
Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy, both just 23 years of age, are two of the brightest young stars in the Autobacs Super GT Series – and in all of global motorsport. On Sunday, they took a defining step towards becoming the youngest GT500 champions in series history, by driving the #37 KeePer TOM’s Lexus LC500 to victory in the 66-lap Chang Super GT Race, held at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
In a race that began under treacherous conditions, Hirakawa and Cassidy overturned an 11-point deficit into a 6-point lead in the standings on the eve of the Motegi GT Grand Final at Twin Ring Motegi on November 12.
They led home a Lexus 1-2 finish, ahead of the #6 Wako’s 4CR LC500 of Kazuya Oshima & Andrea Caldarelli, who moved into second in the standings, ahead of the #23 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda & Ronnie Quintarelli, who fell to third in the championship tables after a ninth-place finish.
Just two rounds remain in the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, and the GT500 Championship lies in wait, to be seized by one great team and their great drivers.
For the fourth time, Super GT will voyage out from its native Japan, nearly 3,000 kilometers south in the Indochinese Peninsula in the Kingdom of Thailand, for the 66-lap Chang Super GT Race, held in the city of Buriram at the state-of-the-art, 4.5 kilometer Chang International Circuit.
As the penultimate round of the season, Buriram is becoming familiar enough of a challenge – with its sweltering heat and humidity, and abundance of sweeping corners already proving a hit with the fans – but is still enough of a wild card that it could completely turn the battle for the premier class title on its head at the end of the race.
Defending GT300 champions VivaC Team Tsuchiya are once again in the midst of a championship battle, and through a 12-month emotional roller coaster, deputy team director Takeshi Tsuchiya has taken the highs, and the lows, in confident stride.
In a recent interview with Ryuji Hirano of AUTOSPORTweb of Japan, Tsuchiya revealed that he would like to bring the team up to GT500, and compete as the sole privateer in a full-factory premier class sometime in the very near future – the team’s self-described “Road to GT500.”