Toyota has continued to amass podium finishes in the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Series, coming up through the ranks to grab second place in a tightly fought race that was held recently at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT, driven by Koki Saga and Kohei Hirate, achieved the impressive feat despite starting out from 18th position on the grid, maintaining Toyota’s momentum in the SUPER GT300 class.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to the team for giving Toyota a great performance in Thailand. Participating and excelling in such racing activities lays the foundations in our journey towards building impressive, ‘ever-better’ cars that bring satisfaction and a smile on our customers’ faces,” said Yugo Miyamoto, Chief Representative of Middle East & North Africa Representative Office, Toyota Motor Corporation. “We are grateful to our fans for their unfading enthusiasm, which remains a source of inspiration for Toyota to keep creating exciting driving experiences.”
The Chang SUPER GT race is the only event of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series that is held outside Japan. The morning of the race started with clear skies, and conditions remained fair throughout the day. The No. 21 competitor vehicle got off to a good start from second place on the grid and succeeded in passing the pole-starting No. 65 competitor vehicle on the first turn. The early stages of the race saw a three-way battle for the lead, while the No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT, which had started out from 18th position, was steadily gaining ground.
With the race approaching its middle stages, the frontrunners became deadlocked, until an upset occurred at the end of the 21st lap, when the leading vehicle returned to the pit after sustaining damage in a collision. Following this incident, the race ran smoothly with little variation in the order of the vehicles; however, in the final stages, there was a closing charge by the No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT driven by Kohei Hirate. After passing the No. 60 competitor vehicle during the 58th lap, Kohei Hirate pulled up on the No. 55 competitor vehicle, which was running in second place at the time. The two vehicles clipped each other, causing damage to the left rear tire of the No. 55 competitor vehicle and forcing it to return to the pit and lose its position in the race.
This left the No. 11 competitor vehicle with an unchallenged lead, and it went on to take the chequered flag. The No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT finished in second place, thanks to its remarkable engineering and impressive display of driving from Koki Saga and Kohei Hirate, who claimed their second, and Toyota’s fourth, podium finish of the season.
No. 31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga and Kohei Hirate)
No. of Laps: 61
Best Lap: 1'33.293