FONTANA, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2004) – The No. 3 G’Zox/SSR/Hasemi Nissan 350Z Turbo of Toshihiro Kaneishi and Frenchman Erik Comas was awarded the victory in the inaugural visit by the All-Japan GT Championship (JGTC) to North America, after the provisional winner of the GT Live All-Star 200 at California Speedway was penalized 60 seconds for a pit stop infraction. The M-Tec Honda NSX team of Tetsuya Yamano Haruki Kurosawa captured the GT300 category.
Provisional winners Tsugio Matsuda and Andre Lotterer crossed the finish line 1.156 seconds ahead of the Kaneishi/Comas car, but were penalized 60 seconds following the race for not completing their required pit stops after a prescribed distance. Cars were required to make two fuel stops in the 87-lap, 200.1-mile race, but not before the completion of lap 15. The PIAA Honda NSX Turbo of Lotterer pitted under caution on lap 15, but not after its completion, thus drawing the penalty. Three other cars received a similar penalty.
Two-time defending series Champion Satoshi Motoyama jumped to the lead in the No. 1 Xanavi/NISMO Nissan 350Z Turbo that teammate Richard Lyons qualified on the pole. For the first 11 laps, Motoyama led a string of five cars nose-to-tail until receiving a bump from the second-place car, spinning in turn seven. The subsequent spin collected fourth-place Ryo Michigami in his Honda NSX, ending the day for both drivers.
On the same lap, Lotterer, who was already slicing through the field after a first lap spin, caught the turn one chicane tire wall, moving it enough to necessitate a full course caution from laps 13 through 16. With the loss of the Motoyama car, Benoit Treluyer took over the point in his No. 12 Calsonic/Impul Nissan 350Z Turbo shared with Yuji Ide until a lap 23 pit stop, thus handing the lead to Masami Kageyama in the No. 22 Motul/Pitwork Nissan 350Z Turbo shared with Michael Krumm.
Lotterer was making fast work of the field despite his early troubles, setting fast lap after fast lap, and caught Kageyama in the No. 22 Nissan by lap 29, passing for the lead on lap 32. Just after being passed, Kageyama spun and collected the turn one chicane tires himself, but not moving them enough to necessitate the second safety car period.
On lap 50, Lotterer pitted his NSX and handed over to teammate Tsugio Matsuda, relinquishing the lead to Comas briefly before he pitted to hand off to teammate Toshihiro Kaneishi on lap 57. With that stop, Matsuda assumed the lead again for the PIAA NSX, just ahead of Kaneishi.
The No. 8 ARTA Honda NSX Turbo of Katsutomo Kaneishi and Daisuke Ito brought out the second caution when it struck water barrels in the final corner on lap 69. Following the green on lap 74, Matsuda pulled out to a 7.2-second lead over Kaneishi. The Nissan whittled down the lead over the final 13 laps, but crossed the finish line 1.156 seconds short at the end of the event.
With the penalty, the Matsuda/Lotterer car moved to second place, ahead of the No. 35 Direzza/Dunlop Toyota Supra of Naoki Hattori and Shigekazu Wakisaka, who also received a 60-second penalty for a similar infraction.
Yamano and Kurosawa shared the No. 16 M-Tec Honda NSX to win the GT300 class, despite also receiving the 60-second penalty.
“I took over the car after Haruki [Kurosawa] and, for me, I think it was a good race and I drove fairly easy,” Yamano, who claimed that California was his second home, said. “I just had to take over and finish the race.
“It means a lot that after everyone’s efforts we were able to come together for our first race here in California,” Yamano added. “Having the people in the paddock and the parking lots was another good way to introduce [the series] to the public. In that way I think this event was very successful.”
Masataka Yanagida and Naofumi Omoto shared the second-place Nissan 350Z in GT300, followed by the Subaru Impreza of Katso Kobayashi and Tatsuya Tanigawa.
The promoter claimed an attendance of more 30,000 for the event.
Today’s race was taped for broadcast on SPEED Channel, and will be aired shortly after the first of the year. For additional information, visit the event site at www.jgtcusa.net.
Link to story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=216