Toyota continued its run of good form to claim its third straight GT300 podium in the 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series. The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT driven by Koki Saga and Rintaro Kubo finished in third position in a closely fought Round 5 at the Fuji Speedway to maintain the team’s impressive start to the season.
“I congratulate the team on their performance. This podium finish adds to our proven record in motorsports, whereby the DNA from our racing products trickles down to our production vehicles as we continue our pursuit of creating ever-better cars that will truly put a smile on our customers’ faces and make them feel safe and secure,” said Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, Toyota Motor Corporation. “The intense competition and the absence of rain despite the cloud cover ensured the race was an entirely enjoyable one for spectators. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our fans for their constant encouragement of our racing initiatives.”
More than 33,500 spectators turned out to watch the second of the season’s two races in Fuji, which got off to a start late afternoon under overcast skies. The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT, starting sixth on the grid, got out of the blocks quickly and edged its way into the fourth position within a few laps of the race. Running strong in fourth, the car chose to be the first among the lead group to make its routine pit stop at the end of lap 22 and, in a calculated move, the team decided to go without a tire change, thus getting the second stint driver Koki Saga back in the race in just about 21 seconds.
The move paid off, as the no-tire-change strategy allowed Saga to move into second position after the rival cars that had delayed their pit stop finally made it to the pit. Saga was however unable to sustain the advantage for long, and on lap 41, had to cede the second position to the chasing car. The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT eventually finished in third to claim their first podium finish of the season.
The series now moves to Suzuka for Round 6. The 1,000-km Suzuka is the longest and biggest race of the season.
• No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga and Rintaro Kubo)
o Race: 3rd, 61 laps
o Best Lap: 1’40.659