Super GT: Cerumo Toyota’s costly stint length miscalculation

SUPER GT championship leaders Kazuya Oshima and Sho Tsuboi were left to rue a miscalculation by the Cerumo Toyota team that forced them into a second pitstop in last weekend’s Suzuka round.

Oshima took the start at the wheel of the #14 Toyota GR Supra, starting 10th but slipping to the rear of the field amid a difficult opening stint.

The reigning champion made a pitstop to hand over to Tsuboi at the end of lap 17 of 52, becoming the first GT500 runner to enter the pits. But it soon transpired that Oshima hadn’t completed the minimum drive-time of one-third distance, which was 18 laps.

That meant Tsuboi had to come in to let Oshima take over again at the end of lap 36, meaning the pair finished a distant 12th, their error further compounded by the mid-race safety car period that bunched up the field.

“We started on the hard tyre but it was not working in these conditions, so we wanted to pit as early as possible,” Oshima explained to Motorsport.com.

“But the engineers made a mistake, and just after we pitted they said it was too early. If we kept going with Tsuboi we’d have got a penalty, so I had to drive one more time. If there was another safety car, there was a chance [to make up the lost time] but there wasn’t.”

Tsuboi recalled: “After the pitstop, the radio call came after one or two laps. And while I had to maintain my concentration, I was depressed.

“It’s a shame to ruin a race with such a stupid mistake. You can’t afford to make such errors in GT500, so I think we need to increase our awareness a little more.

“I’m glad this kind of mistake didn’t happen while we were fighting for the win.”

#14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Oshima said he felt the mistake only cost the team at best a ninth-place finish, and expressed confidence for the next race at Motegi, where the success handicaps will be halved – meaning that none of the GT500 cars will be running with fuel flow restrictors.

“If we had no mistake, maybe we would have scored one point or two points, so not too big [of a loss], he said. “And if we finished seventh or higher, we would still have a restrictor for the next race. Now for the next race we don’t have one, so it should be ok.

“Also, this weekend our cornering speed was very good, just [struggling] in a straight line. If we have more power we should be very quick.”

Oshima and Tsuboi maintain their one-point lead at the head of the standings over Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa, as the TOM’S pair likewise failed to score following Cassidy’s clash with Tadasuke Makino’s Honda while entering the pitlane.

“Fortunately this time the light cars [that are behind in the championship] finished ahead, and our main rival, car #37 [Cassidy and Hirakawa] didn’t score any points,” said Tsuboi.

“Even though we had a bad race, we were able to stay at the top of the rankings, which besides everything else is good. But I don’t think we will have a say in the championship unless we can fight in the top in each of the last two races.”

#14 WAKO’S 4CR GR Supra

Photo by: Masahide Kamio


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