Honda's Fukuzumi slams "dangerous" Hiramine tactics

Jamie Klein
·2-min read

Fukuzumi was referencing his fight with Hiramine for the net lead of the race immediately after the latter exited the pits, and in particular the Impul driver's tactic of weaving on the straight between Spoon corner and 130R to help keep his rival at bay.

The #8 ARTA Honda had led the race from pole until Tomoki Nojiri came in to hand over to Fukuzumi at the end of lap 19, but was jumped not only by Hiramine in the #12 Impul Nissan but also the #3 NDDP/B-Max Nissan and #64 Nakajima Honda.

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

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

Masahide Kamio

After the safety car period, which allowed the winning #23 NISMO Nissan to vault to the head of the field, Fukuzumi was able to put pressure on Hiramine in what had become the battle for second place, but was ultimately unable to find a way through.

"The safety car timing was not good, and it was painful to see car 23 go in front," added Fukuzumi. "After the restart, I suffered from understeer and I couldn’t increase the pace. It was especially hard when running behind another car.

"As I was aiming for the win, I’m disappointed with third. But I’m glad I finished the race properly and got a much better result than the last time we went to Suzuka."

Recalling his stint, Nojiri revealed that an in-lap marred by traffic proved to be ARTA's undoing, suggesting that without that time loss victory was achievable.

"I was caught in traffic a lap before I entered the pits, and the gap to those behind narrowed," Nojiri told Motorsport.com. "Even in the pit entrance, I was stuck behind a GT300 car doing around 80km/h and I lost around three seconds.

"Without that time loss, I think Nirei would have easily gotten ahead of that group [cars 12, 64, 3]. Had everything gone well, I don’t think car 23 would have gone ahead of us."

With most of the championship protagonists at Suzuka failing to score well, Nojiri and Fukuzumi find themselves 19 points off the lead of the standings with 42 points still up for grabs in the remaining two rounds at Motegi and Fuji.

"We won’t be that heavy for the next race at Motegi and car 17 was running well there last time, so I think it’s a track that suits Honda," said Nojiri. "We’re 19 points away from the top now, so if we can win at Motegi, I think there are still chances, so I don’t want to give up yet."

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

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

Masahide Kamio