Fukuzumi had "nightmares" en route to first GT500 win

Jamie Klein
·3-min read

Ex-Formula 2 racer Fukuzumi and his teammate in the #8 Honda NSX-GT, Tomoki Nojiri, took a dominant first win of 2020 from second on the grid in last weekend's penultimate round of the season at Motegi, leading an all-Honda top five.

Nojiri was at the wheel for the opening stint, passing the Nakajima Racing Honda of early leader Hiroki Otsu and building a 10-second lead before pitting to hand over Fukuzumi.

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

#8 ARTA NSX-GT<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
#8 ARTA NSX-GTMasahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio

Fukuzumi was seen in tears during his post-race TV interview after bringing home the ARTA car for the team's first victory in more than 18 months.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Fukuzumi added: "This season it hasn’t gone well even when we’ve had a big gap to the car behind, and there were several cases when we didn’t stay on top when we pitted from the lead. Even in this situation, I was really worried.

"The second half of the race may have seemed easy, but I was thinking about a lot of things, and the last few laps felt very long. I’ve rarely cried in races, but honestly, I was so happy."

ARTA's troubled 2020 season:

Fuji I

Start: 2

Finish: 8

The team's choice of tyre was too soft for the conditions.

Fuji II

Start: 1

Finish: 14

Nojiri spun on his out lap while under pressure from Koudai Tsukakoshi.

Suzuka I

Start: 14

Finish: 13

Fukuzumi hit the back of Yuichi Nakayama's Toyota in the battle for third.

Motegi I

Start: 3

Finish: DNF

Fukuzumi involved in another collision, this time with Jann Mardenborough.

Fuji III

Start: 1
Finish: 3

Fukuzumi led the first stint, but Nojiri's awful out lap cost the team the race.

Suzuka II

Start: 1
Finish: 3

A slow in lap for Nojiri allowed two Nissans to jump ahead in the pitstops.

Nojiri argued that even without the safety car he and Fukuzumi would have won at Motegi, marking a turnaround from the previous two races in which poor pace during the crucial pitstop phase cost ARTA the chance of victory.

Now just three points away from the lead of the championship heading into the decisive Fuji season finale, he added he hopes the momentum the #8 crew has generated can carry them to a first title for the team since 2007.

"At Suzuka, it was not just the bad luck with the safety car [that allowed the #23 Nissan to win], but it was our responsibility that the #12 [Impul Nissan] was able to get ahead of us," said Nojiri. "This time there was some luck involved, but we had good enough pace to win.

"I think we have laid the foundation with the car to be able to fight strongly. With this victory, we have a chance to fight for the championship in the final round. I want to win the final race while maintaining this good momentum."

Additional reporting by Ryo Harada

Tomoki Nojiri, Nirei Fukuzumi, #8 ARTA NSX-GT

Tomoki Nojiri, Nirei Fukuzumi, #8 ARTA NSX-GT<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
Tomoki Nojiri, Nirei Fukuzumi, #8 ARTA NSX-GTMasahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio