Ex-Formula 1 driver Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto claimed their first win together in the 2018 Super GT season at Sportsland Sugo.
Yamamoto put the #100 Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT car on pole on Saturday and started the race handsomely on Sunday at Sportsland Sugo in Round 6 of the 2018 Super GT championship.
The Japanese driver held onto the lead from #12 Team Impul Nissan GT-R of Jann Mardenborough but the British racer clawed into the gap to eventually make the move and pass Yamamoto in Turn 1 to lead the race.
The Honda driver stayed on the tail of Mardenborough to keep them in check as the pit window opened up. Yamamoto dived into the pits on Lap 35 to hand over to Button as Mardenborough stayed out for few more laps.
This played into the hands of Button who was right on the tail of Daiki Sasaki who took over from Mardenborough when the Nissan pitted. The former F1 champion wasted no time then to pass Sasaki and retake the lead for the #100 Raybrig Honda.
It wasn’t easy for Button though as he had a late scare where he almost lost the car but managed to hang on. He then had to survive the safety car re-start as well, defending from the #8 Autobacs Racing Team Aguri Honda NSX-GT of Tomoki Nojiri.
Nojiri already passed the struggling Sasaki in the Nissan and ran Button hard in the six-lap shootout after the safety car. Button held on to win by 0.562s margin – his first Super GT victory and first win in any series since the 2012 F1’s Brazilian GP.
The win has helped Button and Yamamoto to the lead of the GT500 category with 61 points to fellow Honda drivers Nojiri and Takuya Izawa’s 49 after six rounds in the season with two more to go in October and November.
“I have learnt a lot of lessons here today in Sugo,” said Button after the win. “Sugo is very-very tough. I think a win here is like two wins. The #12 car made a mistake in the last corner when he was behind, he dropped back.
“Then I did the same mistake later on marbles, you just slide off the circuit. It was a horrible feeling but I was able to get back on the circuit and then with the safety car we were running the medium tyres, so to get temperature was very difficult.
“Then I saw a track car in the chicane – it was unbelievable. I didn’t know why he was there in the middle of the chicane when I arrived. It was very tough but a really-really special win. Its been six years since I won a race.
“It is very special and Yamamoto has done an amazing job as always. Team Kunimitsu this weekend has been fantastic.”
— SUPERGT_OFFICIAL (@SUPERGT_JP) September 16, 2018