The ZENT CERUMO racing team of Yuji Tachikawa & Kohei Hirate driving their #1 Lexus RC F secured their first win of the season by clinching Round 4 of the 2014 AUTOBACS Super GT series (GT500 class) which took place at the Sugo International raceway in Japan on 20 July, 2014. The KeePer TOM Lexus RC F team of Daisuke Ito & Andrea Caldarelli finished second as Lexus RC F vehicles dominated the action, securing four of the top 5 positions.
The reigning Super GT500 class champions, the ZENT CERUMO team had a time of 1:47'49.984 to win the 79-lap race.
With this latest win, ZENT CERUMO driver Tachikawa becomes the sole holder of the record for most GT500 victories, with 16 wins now to his credit, while for Hirate, the weekend triumph at the Sugo raceway marks his sixth win overall. Meanwhile, the second-place finish in Round 4 has propelled the KeePer TOM Lexus RC F team to the top of this season’s points table.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, “Lexus Racing cars have delivered outstanding performances all season long, and the one-two finish at Sugo raceway provides further confirmation of the extraordinary quality and durability of these high-performance machines. Motorsports provides an important platform for Lexus to showcase the limitless possibilities of its cars, and our consistent success at some of the most grueling race events this year will encourage us to strive even harder in our quest to be a recognized leader in the world of motorsports.”
In an exciting contest marked by intermittent rain and multiple position changes, the ZENT CERUMO team’s decision to stick with slick tyres even as a number of others dived into the pits for wet tyres proved to be a masterstroke, as the rain cleared shortly to give the ZENT team a 20-second lead.
“The car had a good balance in the race, so just by running normally I was able to keep building a lead,” ZENT driver Kohei Hirate said. “We never knew when it was going to start raining again so I pushed and tried to build up as much of a lead as I could, and eventually I was able to turn the car over to (co-driver) Tachikawa with about a 20-second lead.”
The race started under cloudy skies, with rain falling shortly after the start. Reckoning the rain might continue, the pole-starting PETRONAS TOM RC F immediately returned to the pit to change to rain tyres, as did the 2nd-place starter 100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT, only for the rain to cease abruptly by the 5th lap, forcing the teams that had changed to rain tyres to return to the pit once again to change back to slick tyres, thus handing them a hefty time loss.
Making the most of this turn of events were KeePer TOM, who zoomed from 5th position on the grid to the head of the pack, and ZENT CERUMO, who clawed their way to 2nd place having started from the 11th position. With the ZENT’s team’s pace exceeding that of KeePer TOM's, they finally moved clear on the 18th lap to take the lead, and held on admirably through the end to be first past the checkered flag.
The next round of the Super GT series is scheduled to take place at the Fuji International Speedway in the second week of August.