Former Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan took a commanding victory in the second Super GT/DTM Dream Race at Fuji Speedway in Japan on Sunday.
Driving a Honda NSX GT the Indian took control of the race getting past Louc Duval and speaking following the race Kartikeyan said:
Our car immediately felt good on the Hankook tyres, so we thought we’d have a chance to fight at the front. Still, it was fantastic to find we were quick in all conditions – to win the race was just a dream come true. Having this joint race between SUPER GT and DTM has been very special – the DTM drivers are fantastic – so this was fantastic exposure for both series.
BMW Motorsports Marco Wittmann who had a difficult weekend up until the race scored a second place finish on his birthday.
The former DTM champion commented following the race saying:
“This feels great. Until today, the weekend had been quite difficult for us – we struggled quite a lot on Friday and Saturday; and were a bit unlucky with our strategy yesterday. But today it all went to plan, especially coming through from seventh. It was an action-packed race – really good fun – and a great show and good entertainment for the spectators. That last lap was really special – even in DTM we don’t see those sorts of fights too often. Fighting with Loïc was really, really good fun: I knew he was on fresher tyres, but I was going to defend like hell to keep second place. It was a good fight, the last three corners particularly, which is what everyone wanted to see. I think everyone enjoyed today.”
Audi Sports Loic Duval who started the race from pole position completed the podium I third place and speaking following the race he said:
Today was better than yesterday! I knew the SUPER GT cars were a bit quicker than us in terms of pace, so I didn’t fight too hard against them at the beginning of the race. Then I got my puncture, at Turn Four, which cost me a lot of time. But due to the Safety Car, I could make my way back up the order – at the last Indy restart I was 13th, with about eight laps to go, it was great fun. Then, on the last lap, I knew I had fresher tyres; nobody’s here to finish second or third, so I went for the win, trying as hard as possible to make it happen. It was a cool race; a really cool last lap – it was a shame to get a penalty, but I was trying everything to get ahead. In the end, we did what we came here for – so, second or third doesn’t really matter. We achieved our target – we had a fantastic time and everyone really enjoyed it.”
Full race results:
01 Narain Karthikeyan (IND), Honda NSX-GT, 31 laps in 57m 38.362s
02 Marco Wittmann (GER), BMW M4 DTM, + 0.935s
03 Loïc Duval (FRA), Audi RS 5 DTM DTM, + 1.825s
04 Naoki Yamamoto (JPN), Honda NSX-GT, + 3.412s
05 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), BMW M4 DTM, + 3.743s
06 Daisuke Nakajima (JPN), Honda NSX-GT, + 4.356s
07 Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 4.536s
08 Ryō Hirakawa (JPN), Lexus LC500, + 4.681s
09 René Rast (GER), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 5.624s
10 Benoît Tréluyer (FRA), Audi RS 5 DTM, + 7.226s
Speaking following the race, Gerhard Berger, Chairman of ITR e.V. the parent company of the DTM commented saying:
When I walked out onto the Fuji grid before Saturday’s very first Dream Race, the realisation of what ourselves and GTA had achieved really struck me. Seeing five world-class manufacturers on the grid, understanding that we had brought two racing worlds together – after seven years’ hard work – was quite an emotional moment. Furthermore, I could also see that the unification of our two series is clearly the right idea for us. We are heading in the right direction with this common approach. Of course, there’s lots more work to do – but I hope we can learn from this weekend, take our experiences home, work out how to improve, and keep continuing along this path. I see a big future in this kind of racing.”