Nojiri and Fukuzumi completed third on the street in a race marred, and finally reduce brief, by the large crash involving Nissan driver Mitsunori Takaboshi alongside the beginning/end straight on lap 59 of 100.
Nonetheless, with each of the 2 main vehicles – the SARD Toyota and #37 TOM’S Toyota – incomes penalties, ARTA ended up scoring a primary victory of the season for each the crew and Honda when makes an attempt to restart the 450km race in earnest following Takaboshi’s accident got here to naught.
“Our technique was based mostly on the second half of the race, and there was no second half of the race,” defined Dingle. “The principle factor is that Takaboshi is okay, however we weren’t actually completely satisfied to win the race that approach.
“I believe we had the automobile and the technique to win the race even in regular circumstances, so I needed to see if that was actually the case or not.”
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Fukuzumi had taken the beginning from fifth on the grid within the #8 Honda NSX-GT, clearing his minimal drive-time earlier than pitting on lap 36 at hand over to Nojiri, who would have been in a position to race to the tip.
Nojiri was working fifth when the pink flags got here out following a crash for the R’Qs Mercedes-AMG GT3, and when the race resumed, the ARTA automobile gained a spot on the expense of the #36 TOM’S Toyota when each of the TOM’S vehicles got here to blows at Flip 1 on lap 53.
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On the time of Takaboshi’s big crash six laps later, Nojiri was fourth, inheriting third when the race was halted once more.
“Even with out the primary pink flag we had been in a powerful place,” mentioned Dingle. “Our first refuelling cease was longer than most vehicles, and we did a driver change.
“We’d haven’t accomplished a driver change for the second, and we might have had a brief refuel, so we may have gained 10-15 seconds. So if we may keep inside 10-15 seconds of the chief, we may have jumped them within the pits.
“The automobile that may have been tough to beat was the #39 [SARD Toyota], as a result of they took on a variety of gasoline as nicely [stopping on lap 43], and possibly the #3 [Nissan of Takaboshi] if it hadn’t crashed, as a result of they’d good tempo. I believe it could have been between the three of us.”
On whether or not double-stinting Nojiri’s tyres on the closing pitstop was an possibility, Dingle added: “We had been discussing it, and we might have determined based mostly on our tempo. The monitor temperature was dropping in the direction of the tip of the race, though we’d have been on the restrict of tyre life.”
Nonetheless, Dingle conceded that given the straight line pace deficit of the Honda NSX-GT relative to the Toyota GR Supra and Nissan Z, estimated to be round 5km/h at Fuji, passing on-track would have been a tall order.
“Within the early a part of the race we had a few tenths when it comes to tempo over the #100 [Team Kunimitsu] automobile, however we couldn’t even go them on the straight regardless of having the identical quantity of drag,” mentioned Dingle. “So it could have been extraordinarily powerful to go an undamaged Toyota or Nissan.
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“That mentioned, if we had been in entrance, I believe we may have pulled away in sector three on every lap after which simply cling on alongside the straight. At all times we set-up the automobile to be sturdy in sector three within the race at Fuji.”
Dingle added that he knew the #37 Toyota was going to be handed a penalty for its Flip 1 collision, however mentioned that SARD shedding victory attributable to Yuki Sekiguchi’s unlawful inspection of his personal automobile throughout the stoppage got here as a much bigger shock.
“Once I noticed the #37 automobile hit the #36, I knew that may be a penalty, so I assumed we’d be second,” he mentioned.
“However I wasn’t watching the screens when [Sekiguchi touched his car], and to the most effective of my information no one in our crew protested the #39 automobile.”