Tsukakoshi had been working third when the race turned to its head simply after a late full course yellow interval, with the 2 main vehicles dropping out of rivalry in fast succession because of unrelated causes.
That put Tsukakoshi within the lead of the race and the 34-year-old was in a position to face up to intense stress from Kenta Yamashita’s Rookie Racing Toyota to win SUPER GT’s sole endurance occasion of 2021.
The Actual Racing squad had certified down in 11th place in a grid of 15 GT500 vehicles, however turned the favorite for victory mid-race after an impressed resolution to pit underneath the full-course yellow granted it the lead.
A spectacular center stint by Baguette, the place he stretched out an 11-second benefit, solely improved its prospects, however a sluggish second pitstop introduced the the ARTA Honda and the #36 TOM’S Toyota again into play.
ARTA driver Nirei Fukuzumi emerged within the lead of the race following the ultimate spherical of pitstops however was unable to defend from the Actual Honda on chilly tyres, dropping initially to second.
Nevertheless, as soon as his tyres had been as much as the temperature, the 2 drivers engaged in an exhilarating duel and traded locations for a number of laps, earlier than Fukuzumi made a decisive transfer coming into the ultimate nook on lap 87 of 110 to reclaim the lead.
Shortly after TOM’S driver Sho Tsuboi additionally handed Tsukakoshi for second, a 3rd FCY of the race was deployed to get better the #31 apr Toyota Prius that had stopped on observe with obvious technical points.
When the race resumed, Tsuboi could not return to full energy once more and was compelled to park the Supra close to the Coca Cola nook, seemingly granting Fukuzumi a simple run to the chequered flag.
However shortly afterwards the ARTA Honda driver was handed a drive by means of penalty for overtaking a automotive underneath the FCY, placing Tsukakoshi again within the lead of the race.
Photograph by: Motorsport Images
As the primary of the GT500 runners to finish its second cease on lap 68, Actual Racing was marginal on each gas and tyres within the closing stint, permitting Yamashita to shut proper on the tail of Tsukakoshi.
A large second at Flip 1 following a tyre lock-up gave Yamashita a glimmer of hope, however Tsukakoshi by no means let the hole to shut down sufficient to permit the 2019 champion to make a transfer.
On the ultimate lap Yamashita fell into the clutches of a charging Ryo Hirakawa, permitting Tsukakoshi to flee and rating Actual Racing’s first victory since final yr’s Motegi occasion.
Yamashita held on to second within the Rookie Supra he shares with Kazuya Oshima, whereas Hirakawa accomplished the rostrum spots within the #37 TOM’S Supra he was driving with Sena Sekgacuhi.
Naoki Yamamoto and the returning Tadasuke Makino recovered from the rear of the pack to complete fourth within the Kunimitsu Honda, shedding a spot to Hirakawa proper on the dying finish of the race.
The B-Max/NDDP crew completed as the highest Nissan squad in fifth, however with Kohei Hirate and Katsumasa Chiyo ending over 30 seconds behind the main quartet.
The SARD Toyota of Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama couldn’t match the tempo of the opposite Bridgestone-shod Supras however benefitted from the late drama to complete sixth, forward of the Yokohama-shod Bandoh Toyota of Yuji Kunimoto and Ritomo Miayata that dropped from first to sixth within the opening two laps and will by no means fairly get better from its sluggish begin.
After serving the late penalty, Fukuzumi introduced house the ARTA Honda NSX he shares with Tomoki Nojiri in eighth, because the Impul Nissan (Kazuki Hiramine and Nobuharu Matsushita) and Nakajima Honda (Takuza Izawa and Hiroki Otsu) groups accomplished the factors scorers.
Whereas the full-course yellow made its debut in SUPER GT at Fuji, the race additionally witnessed a full-blown security automotive when the NISMO-entered Nissan GT-R suffered a spectacular engine blow-up firstly of lap three, leaving a cloud of smoke behind.