No.8 ARTA NSX Cruises Easily to Victory
With a total reversal of the weather from the Saturday qualifying sessions, clouds hung low over Suzuka Circuit on Sunday, threatening rain for the race. Just minutes before the starting procedure began, raindrops began to fall, sufficient enough for Race Control to declare a wet race. But the decision was made a bit to quickly as the rain let up before the green light was given and all of the cars started using slicks.
The No.6 Esso Ultraflo Supra got the best start off the line, Hideki Noda taking the car from 7th on the grid into the lead going into the first corner followed by Kaneishi in the No.8 ARTA NSX, Mitsusada in the No.1 Loctite MUGEN NSX, Krumm in the No.22 Xanavi Hiroto Skyline GT-R, and then three French drivers in succession, Comas in the No.23 Pennzoil Zexel GT-R, Dumas in the No.39 Denso SARD Supra, and Philippe in the No.18 TAKATA DOME NSX. Noda did well controlling the race early on, but a miscalculation at the Spoon Curve on lap 9 put him into a half-spin and the car slid off the course and into the gravel bed.
On the very same lap, the rear end of the No.22 SkylineGT-R was bumped by the No.18 NSX driven by Philippe as it went through the chicane putting Krumm in the Skyline GT-R through a spin. Krumm managed to recover well, but damage to the bodywork required a pit stop for bodywork. Then, on lap 12, the No.37 MatsuKiyo ZENT TOM''s Supra driven by Yamaji damaged the front section of his car when he touched another car. Schwager and the No.64 Honda NSX went off the track with the No.62 Porsche 911 driven by Shibahara in yet another duel.
The most sensational scene of the day came during lap 15, and involved the No.18 NSX driven by Philippe and the GT300 class No.81 Nissan Silvia. Philippe nudged the Nissan causing it to spin. Nakaya made an attempt to drive the No.21 McLaren around the confusion but ended up crashing into the No.81 car.
Stop & Go penalties were numerous throughout the day. The No.18 TAKATA DOME NSX received two in the second half of the race alone, once for violating refueling regulations and once for crossing the white line at the pit exit), and the No.39 Supra two as well, a for jump start and overtaking under a yellow flag.
These events had no effect on the day's outcome however, as two powerful Honda NSXs, the Nos.8 and 1 cars respectively, moved into the lead and dominated the field. Tsuchiya, piloting the No.8 ARTA NSX in the second half of the race, drove with amazing accuracy and consistently increased the gap between himself and the No.1 Loctite MUGEN NSX driven by Michigami through the end of the race.
"The car had a little understeer but there was no problem," said Kaneishi after the race. "I tried to drive carefully and not cause an accident with the back markers. "
Tsuchiya commented "As I lost a match race with Michigami in the first round of the championship, I wanted to avenge the loss to him one day. Even though I heard over the radio that I had a gap of 20-24 seconds over him, I took the precaution to drive carefully all the same."
The No.100 Honda held onto third in the first half of the race with Iida behind the wheel, but contact with the No.901 Mosler driven by Ito ended the car's chance for a podium finish. Third on the podium went to the No.23 Skyline GT-R as Kageyama, who ran well in the second half after taking over from Comas, moved into third when the No.36 Toyota Supra suffered a fuel pump problem and dropped out of the competition. The two Michelin users finished fourth and fifth in the end.