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.
There was a great deal of anticipation in the air on Friday morning at the historic Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, as the cars of the Autobacs Super GT Series completed a successful first test at race speed in the lead up to opening practice for this weekend’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) season finale.
Four-time GT500 Drivers’ Champion Ronnie Quintarelli, aboard the 2016 #1 Motul Autech NISMO GT-R, joined reigning GT500 champion Heikki Kovalainen, in the 2016 #093 TRD Lexus LC500 Test Car, for the first of two thirty-minute demonstration runs of the weekend.
In the session, Super GT’s challenge to the DTM was laid down – as Kovalainen recorded an unofficial lap time of 1:29.8, nearly two seconds faster than the best time set in the subsequent DTM free practice session.
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.
The #51 JMS P.MU LMcorsa Lexus RC F GT3 of Yuichi Nakayama and Sho Tsuboi took a defining victory in Sunday’s seventh and penultimate round of the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, the Chang Super GT Race at Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.
The young Toyota drivers’ victory from second on the grid moves them into second in the GT300 championship standings, behind the #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Nobuteru Taniguchi & Tatsuya Kataoka, which finished a strong second and regained the championship lead with just one race remaining.