LEXUS TAKES THIRD SUPER GT VICTORY
Lexus has stormed to its third consecutive victory in Japan's premier Super GT series after a tight three-way battle for supremacy.
The No. 36 au TOM's LC500 driven by Lexus duo Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter took the win by just over 26.5 seconds from a pair of Honda NSX GT racers.
Starting from seventh place, Rossiter cut through the field and by the half-way mark of the 300km race was in a close three-way tussle for the lead.
After routine pit stops and driver changes, the No. 36 with Nakajima at the wheel leapfrogged into the lead.
Reigning Super GT champion Heikki Kovalainen in the No. 1 DENSO KOBELCO SARD LC500 rapidly narrowed Nakajima's advantage before handing over driving duties to Kohei Hirate.
A close scrap ensued and led to a collision which sent the No.1 car off the Autopolis circuit on the southern island of Kyushu.
Nakajima, who is leading the World Endurance Championship driver's title, was able to defend his lead and take the win despite damage to his vehicle.
The au TOM's team was the third Lexus crew to win a race this year, giving Lexus the first four places in the manufacturer's championship.
The win lifts Rossiter to second in the driver's title race behind first-round winners Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy in the KeePer TOM's LC500. Nakajima is 5th.
Lexus continues its commitment to motorsport this weekend with a Lexus RC competing in the 45th running of the Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race.
Super GT racing resumes in July at the Sugo circuit, north of Tokyo.