Ex-F1 driver Jenson Button takes Super GT points lead at Suzuka

Ex-Formula 1 driver Jenson Button moved into the lead of the Super GT standings with his second podium finish of the season at Suzuka

Ex-F1 driver Jenson Button takes Super GT points lead at Suzuka

Front-row starter Button, like several other Honda drivers, struggled for tyre temperatures at the start of the race, making him vulnerable to the fast-charging TOM'S Lexus of Nick Cassidy.

However, a few laps in, Button had the situation under control, and managed to build a small gap.

On lap 14 of 52, Heikki Kovalainen suffered a huge crash at the exit of the second Degner, causing the race's sole safety car period.

When racing resumed, Button again came under pressure on cold tyres, with Cassidy this time managing to make a move stick at Turn 1 to demote the Briton down to third.

The 38-year-old dived into the pits at the end of that lap, handing the car to team-mate Naoki Yamamoto.

Yamamoto's out-lap turned out to be nearly four seconds quicker than Tomoki Nojiri, who would replace Takuya Izawa in the ARTA Honda that went on to win the race.

This allowed Yamamoto to not only pass Cassidy's team-mate Hirakawa right after their pitstop, but also bring down Nojiri's gap virtually down to nothing.

Yamamoto stayed on the tail of Nojiri for the next 20 laps, but never managed to attempt a pass and eventually settled three seconds behind the leader.

With Yamamoto's mid-race threat decimated, Izawa and Nojiri secured ARTA's first Super GT win since last year's Fuji 300km race.

For Yamamoto and Button, it was their second podium after their second place finish at Okayama earlier this year, and they lead the standings by one point from the NISMO pairing of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli, who charged from the back of the grid to finish sixth, despite the highest ballast of any car, 52kg.

Behind the leading Honda duo, defending champions Hirakawa and Cassidy finished third in the #1 TOM'S Lexus.

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Series GT
Author Rachit Thukral
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