Murakami Motors Roadster Grabs Season First Win at S-Tai SUGO
The 300km race for round 2 of the Super Taikyu series was held over April 29th to 30th at Sportsland SUGO where the #88 Murakami Motors Roadster started from pole position in the ST-5 class and achieved a lights-to-flag victory to take a season first victory. The top six of the same class saw 4 Mazda machines, making it a highly successful race for the maker. In the ST-4 class the #54 TC CORSE Roadster was running in 2nd right up into the final moments but in the last two laps it was pushed from the rear and became stuck in the gravel bed. Unfortunately, this saw a podium finish slip out of its hands.
This second round of the Super Taikyu series was held under warm, spring weather. For this weekend Group 1, consisting of the ST-X, ST-1, ST-2, ST-3 and ST-TCR classes, and Group 2, made up of numerous cars of the ST-4 and ST-5 classes, were separated into Saturday and Sunday races, each being held as a 300km final. Both groups would have their official qualifying sessions on Saturday. The NOPRO Axela SKY-D (Tatsuya Tanikawa / Tatsuya Nogami / Toshihiko Nogami) competed in Sunday’s Group 1 ST-3 class, the TC CORSE Roadster (NCEC Teruaki Kato / Yui Tsutsumi) in Saturday’s ST-4 class, while the Murakami Motors Roadster (Hiroyuki Murakami / Takeshi Wakitani), Nissoku Roadster (Akihiro Harashima / Tatsuya Okahara / Akihime Iinuma), TEAM 221 BOMEX Roadster (Katsuhiko Tsutsui / Junichiro Yamashita / Koji Yamanishi), and LOVE DRIVE Roadster (Marie Iwaoka / Enami Kitahara / Eriko Yamamoto), were joined by the NOPRO Demio SKY-D (Yutaka Seki / Go Umeda / Kaoru Ijiri) and Odula Demio 15MB (Riku Hashimoto / Ryuichiro Otsuka / Takayuki Takechi) in the ST-5 class.
In the Group 2 race, Tsutsumi took the wheel for the start of the #54 TC CORSE Roadster, beginning from 4th in the ST-4 class, the second row of the 27-car grid. From there he made a good start and as early as the second lap he had moved into 3rd place. Wrestling amongst the formidable 86s he displayed a fast pace and more than held his own. He went on to hand the wheel over to team owner, Kato, and then retook control for the final stint. While running strongly in 2nd place, he refused to open up any gaps to the chasing competition but with only 2 laps remaining he was pushed from the rear at the entry to SP-corner and went into the gravel. The checkered flag was raised while he was stuck in that position. Kato went on to say, “It was a pretty wretched way to finish. However, our NC Roadster was showing speed right from qualifying and we are clearly in a position to aim for the podium. The next rounds are at Suzuka and Autopolis, which are good courses for us. We’ll give it everything we’ve got so I hope the fans continue to give us their support.”
As for the #88 Murakami Roadster, it began the race at ST-5 class pole position and went on to maintain that lead. Although for a short time the #2 TEAM 221 Roadster was looking dangerous to the rear, the #88 shook off the challenge and went on to run the rest of the race undisputed. After changing over to Wakiya, they continued to tick off laps, maintaining their fast pace, and after the wheel was handed back over to Murakami, he maintained a steady run to pass the checkered flag in the top spot after 3 hours. Looking happy Murakami related, “I thought that Sugo would be where we could really put in a good fight and so to take our first season victory here, making it two consecutive wins at the same course from last year, makes me really happy. I’m not going to pay too much attention to the point rankings and will just focus on running steadily in the remaining races with Wakitani. If I do that I’m sure the results will come about by themselves.” The #2 TEAM 221 Roadster followed behind in 2nd, while the NOPRO Demio SKY-D finished in 4th from a 12th place start and the Odula Demio 15MB took 5th, meaning that 4 of the top 6 finishing cars in the ST-5 class were Mazdas. The women only LOVE DRIVE RACING continued to have machine trouble from the opening round and after pushing the clutch a little too hard it gave out and they were forced to retire.
In Sunday’s Group 2 race, the NOPRO Axela SKY-D, that made its debut in the opening round, started from the tail end of the ST-3 class. Thanks to improvements such as weight reduction and adjustments to the engine control system, that were carried out after the first round, it was able to reduce its time difference with the fastest competitors. Tanikawa took the wheel for the start and flew out of the blocks early on in the race but the car began to overheat and he was forced to make several pit stops. The cooling water would boil over and each time this happened they would have to return the car to the pit garage to allow the crew to cool it down. Then, after completing a few more laps they would have to repeat the process. As a result, despite the fact that Toshihiko Nogami passed the checkered flag, the team had not completed the minimum number of laps and so they weren’t certified as having completed the race. Team representative, Nogami stated, “Although we were able to avoid interfering with the engine control, as expected the unit tended to overheat. Before the next round at Suzuka we are going to have figure out some ways to ensure that we can remove heat from the engine room and get fresh air into it to increase cooling efficiency. We are gradually working towards our goal of improving the car’s performance.” Hopefully the team will see rapid progress.
Test and Photos by MZRacing