Murakami Motors Roadster achieves successive victories at Fuji 24 hours
Qualifying result of Mazdas Fuji Speedway was blessed with a great race weather. However, because of the cloudy weather, the hoped-for Mt. Fuji only appeared for a short time. A total of 7 Mazdas competed this time. In the ST-2 class the #17 NOPRO Axela SKY-D (Tatsuya Nogami / Tatsuya Tanikawa / Tobio Otani / Yuta Sawa / Toshihiko Nogami), grabbed 4th place in qualifying, and in the ST-5 class the Murakami Roadster took pole. The #101 Hiromatsu Demio (Yoichiro Shinichiro / Kota Sasaki / KENBOW / Yasutaka Aoi / Yoshinobu Koyama) recorded the top time in qualifying but received a two grid demotion penalty for crossing the white line, the #78 LOVE DRIVE RACING Roadster (Ryohei Tanaka / Koji Yamanishi / Satoshi Osaki / Takahiro Kimura / Yosuke Kato) got 5th, the #37 NOPRO Demio SKY-D (Satoshi Ijiri / Satoshi Izumi / Nobuhiro Fujiwara / Yoshihiro Kato / Hiroaki Yamamoto / Seki Toyoho), grabbed 6th, the #66 odula Roadster (Riku Hashimoto / Katsuhiko Tsutsui / Narumi Kanamori / Riku Nishiyama / Koji Ide / Takayuki Takechi) took 9th and the #50 LOVE DRIVE RACING Roadster (Marie Iwaoka / Hiroko Komatsu / Sayaka Kato / Junko Fujii / Rika Nakamura / Aika Kumashita) grabbed 10th.
Race The race began at 3:00pm on the 1st, and a total of 48 S-Tai machines in each class launched out of the gates. In the ST-5 class, where 10 cars were squeezed into the group, the Fits took advantage of their higher horsepower moved into the leadin the opening stages. However, the Demios and Roadsters stayed hot on their heels. In the Mazda group, the #78 Roadster broke through the Fits early in and ran temporarily at the top spot. After 2 hours, the #101 Demio held a 5 second gap with the race leader, followed by the #78 Roadster in 4th and the #88 Roadster in 6th. In the fourth hour, the #101 Demio, who finished 2nd in the previous race at SUGO, maintained 2nd in class, the #78 Roadster was struggling to hold onto 3rd place, while the #88 Roadster was running in 5th. In the ST-2 class the #17 was running third in the class. However, after 7:30 pm, the #37 Demio SKY-D, who complained of a problem with while in the NOPRO pits, pitted in once again. There the team engaged in the large work of replacing the transmission. Unfortunately, the #17 Axela SKY-D also made an emergency pit stop. It seemed that a failure occurred in the suspension arm. The struggle of the mechanics started from here. It took a long time, but both cars got back out onto the course after making repairs and continued racing. Around the same time, the #66 Roadster came into contact with other vehicles and made an irregular pit stop. However, it appeared the damage was minor and it returned to the course after undergoing some taping. The #101 Demio was hit by an ST-X vehicle and spun, but fortunately only the wheel was damaged and it was able to return to the pits.
Time passed and the east sky began to brighten after 4am. At 5 am, the #88 Roadster was in second place. During the night, the #101 Demio had a brake problem and was back in seventh place. After that, the deadlock continued, but after 11am, when there was 4 hours remaining in the race, the Fit that was running in the lead of the ST-5 class, pitted in with driveline trouble. The #88 Roadster finally moved into the top while the Fit was carrying out a 10-minute replacement. At this point, the #101 Demio was sixth, the #66 Roadster was seventh, the #78 Roadster was eighth, the #50 Roadster was ninth, and the #37 Demio SKY-D was tenth. The ST-2 class #17 Axela was fourth in class, and all Mazdas were still in the fight. After 1:00pm, driveline trouble occurred in the #101 Demio, and the team carried out a transmission replacement. However, the #66 odula roadster stopped on the course with mechanical problems. The #78 LOVE DRIVE RACING Roadster also been pulled into the repair area, but could not restart. Moreover, the #101 Hiromatsu Demio was stuck on the course in the final lap. It turned out that they ran out of gas. During that time, the #88 Murakami Roadster received the checkered flag in the top spot, and everyone in the Murakami Pits let out a great cheer. In the ST-2 class the #17 NOPRO Axela SKY-D was aiming for 3rd place, but it ultimately finished in 4th place in the class without being able to make a pass. In the ST-5 Class the #50 LOVE DRIVE RACING Roadster finished 6th, their best results in this season, and the #37 NOPRO Demio SKY-D finished 7th.
Team representative Murakami’s comment Murakami Motors’s Hiroyuki Murakami, who competed in the Fuji 24 Hours and achieved their 2nd consecutive win there, said, “I lost my car in the opener this season (written off in an accident in the ST-X class) and we suffered with machine trouble in the second round at SUGO too so I headed to Fuji without much confidence. The car is a spare car (training car), so I felt we were a little lacking in speed. Nevertheless, we all talked about doing what we could do and steadily ticked off laps. We received the checkered flag in the top spot and, while the misfortune of the other teams was lucky for us, we also ran consistently without mistakes from any of our drivers, never suffered a penalty and didn’t experience any machine trouble at all. The Mechanics also sent the car out with perfect pitwork, and the strategy was just right. I think it’s a victory that’s was achieved because everyone in the team worked together in this way.”
2019 S-Tai Round 3 Fuji 24 Hours Race Digest Video (YouTube 5’25 ”)
Text and Photos by MZRacing