Suzuka 10 Hours Race Report
?BH Auction SMBC - The 48th Summer Endurance Suzuka 10Hours race? was held on Sunday, August 25th, at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, Japan.
The winner of this race was?No.25 Audi Sport Team WRT which started from the second grid. No.999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing finished P2, and P3 was 911 GT3 R of?No.912 Absolute Racing.
At 10 am, under the intense sunlight of late summer, the formation lap started toward 10 hours of a hard-fought game. After a lap of platooning, 36 cars accelerated at a time, and the clock started counting down.?Martin Tomczyk of?No.42 BMW Team Schnitzer, who started from pole position,?had led the early stage of the race, followed by?BMW M6 GT3 of?No.34 Walkenhorst Motorsport, which started from the third grid. Nicky Catsburg overtook?Kelvin van der Linde, who started from second grid, immediately after the start.
But the orders began to change when the first stint finished and the second stint started. At lap 40,?Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 2015 of?No.5 GTNET MOTORSPORTS and?Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019 of?No.88 JLOC made contact at the exit of Spoon Corner, causing No.5 to spun as a result. While No.5 stopped on track, the group of cars fighting for top positions came in.?No.34, running at second place, took the inside line but could not avoid contact with No.5. As No.34?damaged its rear wing, he had to go back to the pit, but it took significant time to repair.
About two hours after the start, change of order was seen at the top group. After lap 57,?No.42 BMW came in for the pit as P1, but while waiting for the pit work to finish, their mechanic had to open the door again to reconnect the radio. That resulted in letting No.25 Audi, which already finished their pit work, to take the lead. No.42 dropped out of the top-battle, with the drive-through penalty for the subsequent pit stop, for violating the minimum pit stop time (0.4 seconds earlier than regulated 84 seconds).
While the BMW camp drops positions, No.25 Audi comfortably led the race. Although the orders seem to switch at each pit stop, No.25 never really handed the position. They ran through 10 hours of competition and seized the victory.?No.125 Audi Sport Team Absolute Racing followed the top since the midst of the race, and AUDI was about to achieve the 1-2 finish. However, at the final pit stop,?No.125 Audi happened to struggle with?refueling problem. They lost significant positions by losing 45 seconds.
Instead,?No.999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing that started from P9 emerged to P2. The winner of last year succeeded to be on the podium again this year.?No.912 Porsche from 11th grid finished P3.?There were two periods in the 10-hour race that moved from full-course yellow to safety cars. While most of the teams chose to pit for the first safety car period,?No.912 Porsche decided to stay out and shifted the timing of the pit stop. Then they pitted at the second FCY to safety car period. That let them challenge for P2 and ultimately snatch the podium at the end. P4 was?No.77 Mercedes-AMG Team CraftBamboo Racing, and P5 was?No.42 BMW.
However, there was a battle that brought excitement to the spectators at the last hour. Tsugio Matsuda who drove?No.35 KCMG?Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 2018 and?Christopher Haase of?No.125 Audi, who suffered refueling trouble, showed the most exciting and super-close fight. Matsuda could only defend from Hasse who attacked him again and again, but never let him pass until the end. He showed the strong spirit as both former Japanese Formula Nippon Champion and Super GT500 Champion.
Spectators changed the color of glow stick in their hand to blue, to show their support to Matsuda, and that made the grandstand all blue. With the support of his fans, Matsuda finished P6, which was the best position among the Japanese drivers. The highest position among Japanese team was P10 of?No.00 Mercedes-AMG Team GOOD SMILE. They also gained Team of the Day, voted by spectators.