Tom’s Toyota Wins The Title Defence

Leading a Toyota GR Supra 1-2, TOM’s duo of Sho Tsuboi and Kenta Yamashita began the 2019 SUPER GT season with a commanding victory at Okayama International Circuit.

Starting from pole position, Tsuboi soon pulled ahead of the field following an early safety car period due to contact on the first lap of the race. Yamashita never seemed seriously threatened at the head of the field.

The No. 14 Rookie Racing Toyota and the No. 17 Real Racing Honda Civic Type R-GT were the two vehicles that were effectively eliminated in the melee when Bertrand Baguette’s Impul Nissan Z spun Kazuya Oshima’s Rookie car out of control as it was leaving Revolver Corner.

After the race restarted, Tsuboi gained ground on Yuhi Sekiguchi’s SARD Toyota, which was in second place. Tsuboi stopped on lap 32 of 82 to give the lead to Yamashita, who was able to hold onto the lead and cross the finish line eleven seconds ahead of Sekiguchi.

The fight for second place was more closely contested, with Sekiguchi being forced to play the defensive game against Toshiki Oyu’s Cerumo Toyota and Tadasuke Makino’s Team Kunimitsu Honda.

On lap 18, Oyu passed Makino for third place, but Cerumo’s slow stop as Oyu passed the position to Hiroaki Ishiura cost the team the position and gave SARD the breathing room they needed to pass Sekiguchi and hold onto second place.

Yuichi Nakayama, Sekiguchi’s teammate, battled backwards against Naoki Yamamoto, his opposite number in the Kunimitsu Honda, during the second stint, but Nakayama ultimately managed to hold onto the position by barely 1.2 seconds at the finish.

Although they didn’t finish in second place, Yamamoto and Makino made sure the new Civic Type R-GT had a podium finish on its debut; Yamamoto also recovered from an injury that kept him out of the final two races of the 2023 season.

With the No. 38 Cerumo entry, Ishiura made it three Toyota crews in the top four, albeit he was still about nine seconds behind third.

The No. 23 NISMO Z driven by Katsumasa Chiyo and Ronnie Quintarelli was the top finisher for Nissan. On the first lap, Quintarelli lost time after Oshima’s Rookie Toyota pushed him into the gravel at the first curve.

Alesi, who shares a car with Ukyo Sasahara, managed to survive the crash and finish eighth. Sasahara was the last driver to perform his mandated pit stop, giving him a brief lead.

With the aid of the early safety car period, ARTA’s No. 8 Honda emerged from its pit lane start to take eighth place, ahead of the sister No. 16 vehicle in ninth place and the Nakajima Honda, the only non-Bridgestone car to gain points in the GT500.

Toyota Ingins First, Outlasting Leon Mercedes in the GT300

In the GT300 class, Naoya Gamou and Takuro Shinohara’s No. 65 LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo won the pole position, while Hibiki Taira and Yuui Tsutsumi’s No. 2 Inging Toyota GR86 emerged victorious.

Before making his pit stop on lap 33, Taira ran behind Shinohara for the duration of the first stint. He decided not to replace any of the No. 2 machine’s Bridgestone tyres, while LEON decided to put Gamou on new tyres after Shinohara stopped on lap 50.

The No. 52 Saitama Green Brave Toyota GR Supra, which also chose not to change tyres, came in behind Gamou after his stop in third place. However, Gamou was able to take use of his tyre advantage and move up to second place before catching up to Tsutsumi for the lead.

But the distance was simply too great to overcome, as Tsutumi crossed the finish line less than five seconds ahead of Gamou.

Another car that didn’t get new tyres during the pit stops, the No. 31 apr Lexus LC500h driven by Kazuto Kotaka and Jin Nakamura, completed the top five with a lap down.

The No. 61 BRZ driven by Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi had a terrible start to the season as it struggled to maintain speed in the first lap, falling from third place to the bottom reaches of the top 10.

Before the Team Mach Toyota 86 MC went into a spin and the Subaru’s race was ended due to an overheating engine, Yamauchi was given a drive-through penalty.

On its SUPER GT debut, the Ferrari 296 GT3 finished in 10th place with a solitary point thanks to Roberto Merhi and Yoshiaki Katayama of Team LeMans.

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