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LEXUS TAKES 1-2 FINISH AT FUJI

Lexus

Lexus secured a thrilling 1-2 podium finish in the fifth round of the 2018 AUTOBACS Super GT championship at Fuji Speedway in Japan last weekend. 

Kazuki Nakajima and Yuhi Sekiguchi in the #36 Lexus Team au TOM'S LC 500 took the lead late in the 800km race - the longest on the calendar - to post their first win of the season.

The victory for Nakajima and Sekiguchi comes after they agonisingly ran out of fuel close to the finish of the previous round of the championship in Thailand. 

After more than four-and-a-half hours of racing, just 1.564 seconds separated them from teammates and defending series champions Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa in the #1 KeePer TOM'S LC 500.

The two Lexus race cars fought a close battle, particularly in the third hour when Sekiguchi managed to pass Cassidy in a move that would ultimately decide the race.

Another notable result for Lexus was the #38 ZENT CERUMO LC 500 that recovered to eighth place despite a crash in practice that forced it to miss qualifying and start from the back of the grid.

The victory for Nakajima - a former F1 driver who won the Le Mans 24-hour classic in June - was his sixth in the GT500 class and his first with Sekiguchi.

Nakajima said the victory was especially important in the context of the championship. 

"This race was a race we must win, and it meant the season will end for us if we didn't," Nakajima said. "So we are relieved for this victory. The race was a gruelling contest, and we took some risk, but (we were) able to race without damage in the long distance, so I feel this result is a reward for us. 

"I am also grateful that it is the first time to achieve one-two finish for team TOM's."

Co-driver Sekiguchi said: "The previous race at Thailand was regretful, so I am happy with the victory. When I started the last stint, we were not in position one yet, but we decided to go with the soft tyre, so we didn't give up. 

"This is the first podium and first victory for me after transferring to this team, so I am relieved for the result. The braking was difficult in the end, and our teammate No.1 (KeePer TOM'S LC 500) came right behind, so I had to give a lot of attention while racing. I heard it was the first one-two finish for team TOM's, so it's a great day for the team."

Cassidy and Hirakawa now lead the driver rankings with 47 points, followed by Sekiguchi on 40 points.

In the team rankings, Lexus teams hold five of the top 10 positions with Lexus Team KeePer TOM's and Lexus Team au TOM's first and second.

Round six of the eight-race Super GT championship will be held at Sportsland SUGO on September 15-16.