The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT car driven by Koki Saga and Yuichi Nakayama won round 8 of the 2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT 300 series, which was held recently at the Twin Ring Motegi in Tochigi Prefecture. The final round took place in tricky conditions with the track wet in the early stages and dry in the latter half.
The race began with all the cars starting on rain tires due to the wet conditions. The pole-sitting No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT driven by Koki Saga had a good start to keep the lead and then began pulling away from the pack. Running in the lead, the No. 31 car was turning out laps as fast as 1'55'', while the cars from the second place down were running at a pace of about 2'00'' flat. By just the tenth lap of the race, car No. 31 had built up a lead of more than 25 seconds, and that lead continued to grow with each lap. However, the No. 31 car fell behind by the 30th lap to remain in fourth place because of a collision between two cars which brought out the Safety Car, hence, the No. 31 car lost its chance to make its routine pit stop.
By this time, the weather had changed with the rain stopping so all the cars proceeded to race on slick tires on a dry track. With Yuichi Nakayama at the helm, the No. 31 car started to accelerate and make its way back into the lead. On the 37th lap, he clocked the fastest lap of the race with a 1'49.434 time and then went on to retake the lead on the 38th lap and then eventually win the race. This win was the second of the season for the No. 31 team, following the win at Okayama.
“This was a wonderful win for the team and highlights the superb performance and versatility of the Prius,” said Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, TOYOTA Motor Corporation. “For most of our history, we have pushed our cars to their limits in order to improve our products and this is why our involvement in motorsports is very important in learning more about the capabilities of our vehicles. For Toyota, motorsports activities are a central pillar for creating ever-better cars. We also appreciate the support of our fans and their constant encouragement for our racing initiatives.”
Speaking on the occasion, Yuichi Nakayama, said, “We got two wins this season, in the opening round and the final round, so I am very glad about the way things have gone. Unfortunately due to a mid-race collision, the Safety Car had to come out resulting in us losing the lead. When I got back into the race we were in fourth position, and I was informed over the team radio that the lead car was eight seconds ahead of me. I was a little concerned about the performance of the slick tires but I was able to catch up, so it was a great race in the end.”