Lexus Team KeePer TOM’s driver Nick Cassidy converted pole position into a race one victory at the DTM/SuperGT ‘Dream Race’ at Fuji Speedway, ahead of Honda Keihin Real Racing’s Kudai Tsukakoshi and Honda Team Kunimitsu’s Naoki Yamamoto.
Drama before the grid formed as Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Loïc Duval who was due to start from second spun on his warm up lap and suffered damage to the front of the car.
This left Cassidy with a much clearer run from the rolling start down to the tight Turn One. The New Zealand driver held on to his lead and swiftly sought about building a gap of around five seconds after around ten minutes of racing.
Audi Sport René Rast climbed from 14th into the top ten in the opening tours, and after 15 minutes of racing was locked in a three-car battle for fifth with Lexus Team au TOM’s Yuhi Sekiguchi and Lexus Team Lemans Wako’s Kenta Yamashita.
Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s Mike Rockefeller found himself slipping down the order from his fifth place on the grid, and was battling with BMW Team RBM’s Kamui Kobayashi for 11th position before the pit stops begun.
Rast started losing time, losing out to Nissan NISMO’s Ronnie Quintarelli and Lexus Team Zent Cerumo driver Yuji Tachikawa, and took to the pitlane with 33 minutes to go for his mandatory stop.
Race leader Cassidy was the last to pit, making his compulsory visit to change Hankook tyres with 22 minutes to go, but such was the pace of the 2019 SuperGT runner-up that he emerged from the incredibly long Fuji pitlane with a six second lead over closest challenger Tsukakoshi.
Marco Wittmann looked to have gained through the pit cycle, but a sudden drop in pace forced the BMW Team RBM squad to call him in for a second pitstop.
Cassidy looked to be managing a five second lead, but the race would turn on its head with eight minutes remaining as the safety car was deployed for the stranded Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 of Team Impul’s Daiki Sasaki who stopped near the exit of pitlane.
The race would resume with two-and-a-half minutes to spare, and the charge down into Turn One following the Indy-style restart was relatively controlled as Cassidy held onto his lead.
Further back Audi Sport Team WRT Hitotsuyama driver Benoît Tréluyer battled through from 14th at the restart to finish sixth. The Frenchman executing several fantastic moves and benefitting from an incident involving Rockenfeller, who was battling for ninth, being spun out at Turn 10.
Rast would finish the race in eighth place, only three tenths behind Tréluyer in a three-way battle to the line with Sekiguchi who split the two DTM drivers.
Incredibly, Honda Team Mugen’s Hideki Mutoh would finish the race in tenth place from last on the grid after a near complete rebuild of the car following a massive crash in qualifying.
Rockenfeller would cross the line in 13th place after that spin three laps from the end, less than two tenths ahead of Kobayashi in 14th and Wittmann would finish the race a lap down in 18th position after a second visit to pitlane.
BMW Team RBM’s Alex Zanardi was forced to retire with an engine issue after half-race distance. The Italian driver gained positions at the start, but the mechanical issue brought about a disappointing end to Zanardi’s race.
Second qualifying and race two take place on Sunday at 00:00 GMT and 05:33 GMT respectively.
|1||37||Nick CASSIDY||Lexus LC500||35||57:45.326||1:31.346||1|
|2||17||Koudai TSUKAKOSHI||Honda NSX-GT||35||0.433||1:31.610||6|
|3||1||Naoki YAMAMOTO||Honda NSX-GT||35||5.862||1:31.636||3|
|4||6||Kenta YAMASHITA||Lexus LC500||35||6.974||1:32.259||11|
|5||19||Sho TSUBOI||Lexus LC500||35||9.966||1:31.226||9|
|6||21||Benoït TRÉLUYER||Audi RS5 DTM||35||11.242||1:32.781||16|
|7||36||Yuhi SEKIGUCHI||Lexus LC500||35||11.369||1:32.740||10|
|8||33||René RAST||Audi RS5 DTM||35||11.540||1:33.408||14|
|9||38||Yuji TACHIKAWA||Lexus LC500||35||13.421||1:32.412||15|
|10||16||Hideki MUTOH||Honda NSX-GT||35||13.426||1:32.321||21|
|11||3||Frederic MAKOWIECKI||Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500||35||15.648||1:33.710||8|
|12||23||Ronnie QUINTARELLI||Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500||35||15.764||1:33.475||4|
|13||99||Mike ROCKENFELLER||Audi RS5 DTM||35||18.790||1:33.381||5|
|14||0||Kamui KOBAYASHI||BMW M4 DTM||35||18.929||1:33.300||18|
|15||8||Takuya IZAWA||Honda NSX-GT||35||19.832||1:31.954||13|
|16||39||Yuichi NAKAYAMA||Lexus LC500||35||20.524||1:31.794||17|
|17||24||Jann MARDENBOROUGH||Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500||35||22.480||1:32.437||7|
|18||11||Marco WITTMANN||BMW M4 DTM||34||+ 1 LAP||1:31.549||19|
|19||12||Daiki SASAKI||Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500||28||+ 7 LAPS||1:33.664||12|
|R||64||Tadasuke MAKINO||Honda NSX-GT||25||DNF||1:31.186||20|
|R||4||Alessandro ZANARDI||BMW M4 DTM||17||DNF||1:34.607||22|
|NS||28||Loïc DUVAL||Audi RS5 DTM||–||DNS||N/A||2|