Felix Rosenqvist and team-mate Kazuya Oshima finished round two of the Super GT season in fifth place, having challenged for the podium for much of Friday’s Fuji 500 km race.
The Swedish/Japanese Team LeMans duo got things off to a promising start at Fuji Speedway, majestically set at the foot of Mt. Fuji, as Oshima went second quickest in a shortened, Q1-only qualifying session delayed by fog to put the #6 Lexus car on the front row.
Oshima then took charge of driving duties in the opening stint of the near three-hour race, handing the car over to Rosenqvist in fifth place during the first pit stop phase.
Rosenqvist rejoined roughly eight seconds behind the group in front, but gradually chased down the sister #38 and #36 Lexus machines during a strong 40-lap run to pit right behind the two.
A swift pit stop turnaround ensured Oshima could head back out in third for the final stint, but a difficult conclusion to the race eventually translated to fifth by the fall of the chequered flag.
It was still an important result for Team LeMans, achieved at a time of grieving for the squad following the recent passing of chief engineer Kenji Yamada.
The Fuji race was won by the #23 Nissan GT-R of Ronnie Quintarelli/Tsugio Matsuda, who simultaneously snatched the lead of the Super GT standings.
Rosenqvist/Oshima are seventh overall following the opening two rounds.
“A pretty average race for us, to be honest,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “We’re relatively pleased with a top five result, but having started on the front row, we were hoping for a bit more. Kazuya did great in qualifying and we seem to have competitive one-lap pace, so that’s positive. There’s still room for improvement in race trim, however, and we’ll keep working on that. Given the events of the past few weeks, I think everyone at Team LeMans came together to give us a solid result in difficult circumstances.”
The next Super GT round is pencilled in for Suzuka on May 19-20, although Felix Rosenqvist will sit out that meeting due to clashing commitments at the Berlin Formula E E-Prix on May 19.
Rosenqvist will contest all subsequent Super GT rounds.
RESULTS (top five)
Race 2/8 | Fuji 500 km
1: T.Matsuda (JPN)/R.Quintarelli (ITA), Nissan, 110 laps
2: H.Kovalainen (FIN)/S.Tsuboi (JPN), Lexus, +9.738s
3: Y.Tachikawa (JPN)/H.Ishiura (JPN), Lexus, +23.450s
4: J.Rossiter (GBR)/Y.Sekiguchi (JPN), Lexus,+33.144s
5: F.Rosenqvist (SWE)/K.Oshima (JPN), Lexus, +35.326s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (top five)
After 2/8 races
1: T.Matsuda (JPN)/R.Quintarelli (ITA), Nissan, 26 p.
2: K.Tsukakoshi (JPN)/T.Kogure (JPN), Honda, 21 p.
3: N.Yamamoto (JPN)/J.Button (GBR), Honda, 17 p.
4: H.Kovalainen (FIN)/S.Tsuboi (JPN), Lexus, 15 p.
5: R.Hirakawa (JPN)/N.Cassidy (NZL), Lexus, 15 p.
7: F.Rosenqvist (SWE)/K.Oshima (JPN), Lexus, 14 p.