Murakami Roadster Finishes 2nd in Class at S-Tai Sugo Round 2
Although Miyagi Prefecture avoided a direct hit from an approaching typhoon, heavy rain continued to fall right from the morning. The A-driver qualifying session for Gr.2 qualifying on Saturday started at 9:15am. However, as soon as it started, the #102 Hiromaz Demio Mazda2 (Kota Sasaki/Soichiro Yoshida/Yugo Osaki) had to stop due to technical problems. The session was red flagged and the car was retrieved. By this time, most teams had not yet started their time attacks, and the #88 Murakami Motors Roadster (Hiroyuki Murakami/Yasunori Nakajima/Tatsuya Tanigawa) was the only one to set the best lap from early on, giving them a huge advantage. Later on, during the B drivers’ qualifying session, the weather worsened further. With strong rain, the track conditions were extremely poor, and all teams were unable to produce the times they wanted. As a result, the #88 car was able to take pole position for the final race. On the other hand, the official qualifying session for Gr.1, which was scheduled to take place after Gr.2, was cancelled by the organizers due to the bad weather and a delay in the time schedule. The starting grid for the Gr.1 race to be held the next day was determined by the final positions at the previous round, the Fuji 24 Hours.
The Gr.2 race started on time at 13:10 with the safety car leading. Immediately after the start of the race, the #88 car maintained the lead. The #456 odula roadster (Riku Hashimoto/Tatsuya Ota/Takaya Kusano) was hot on its tail. Just as #88 was about to give way to an ST-4 class car at the hairpin, the #456 passed him to take the lead. The #50 LOVE DRIVE ROADSTER (Koji Yamanishi/Shui Sato) came from behind, and the #456, #88, and #50 ROADSTER took the lead. After an hour and a half of racing, the #456 and #50 lost their positions due to an accident. 1 and a half hours later, as the race passed the halfway point, the #54 TC CORSE ROADSTER (Akiaki Kato/Koichi Ishii/Kazundo Tsuji) in the ST-4 class stopped just before the final corner. The #88 went into the pits at this time. They refueled and changed drivers. In Super Taikyuu, the regulations have been revised this year to allow for pit stops during the SC. The #88 car exited the pits just before the exit from the pit road closed and the cars were about to pass the home straight. The #88 continued to lap steadily and ran at the top of the pack, but the #4 FWD Fit, which had an advantage in the heavy wet conditions, caught up with it and moved into the top spot. In the battle for 3rd place, the #37 NOPRO Demio SKY-D’s (Kaoru Ijiri/Kazunari Yoshioka/Yoshiteru Kato) Ijiri closed the gap to the #69 Fit with a fierce pace. The #37 car that took victory in the previous round, the Fuji 24 hour race at Fuji, was carrying a heavy weight handicap. Towards the end of the race, the rain was diminishing, but there was fog and poor visibility. At 16:10, the #88 took the checkered flag in second place, taking its first podium finish of the season. The #37 missed out on the 3rd place podium by a small margin, but still managed to finish in 4th place and take points and will avoid extra weight handicap for the next round.
After the race, Hiroyuki Murakami, the #88 Murakami Motors representative, commented, “We entered the track early in the qualifying session with rain forecasted, so we got in early. In the race, I tried to stick it out as long as I could and pass the next driver. I was able to get to the top, but as expected, I was passed by the FF cars. The next round, Okayama, is the circuit I’ve driven on the most, so I’m very confident in my chances. The roadster and the track work well together, so I’d like to get a pole position and win the race.”
On the second day, the Gr. 1 race was held and the NOPRO Axela SKY-D (Tatsuya Nogami/Hiyo Ohtani/Toshihiko Nogami) in the ST-2 class took part in the race. Despite the same wet conditions as the previous day, the team started the race with a front slick and rear rain tires. This aggressive setup allowed them to stay ahead of the leaders and finish the race in 5th place with no problems.
The next round of the Super Taikyu Series will be held at Okayama International Circuit on October 31st and November 1st with the same 3 hour, 2 race format as this race.
Text & Photos by MZRacing