Suzuka SUPER GT: Lexus dominates, late puncture leaves Button last

Lexus took a 1-2-3 finish in the Suzuka SUPER GT race, as reigning champions Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto finished a lap down after incurring a puncture

Suzuka SUPER GT: Lexus dominates, late puncture leaves Button last

Yamamoto had started the race from seventh on the grid in the Kunimitsu Honda, and took little time to overtake Hideki Mutoh, barging past the Mugen Honda driver at the chicane on lap four of the 52-lap race.

After the race's sole safety car - deployed when NISMO's Ronnie Quintarelli stopped at 130R with what appeared to be a technical issue - retreated on lap 22, Yamamoto was the leading runner to make his mandatory pitstop.

That stop was fractionally slower than Mugen Honda, whose driver Daisuke Nakajima emerged ahead of Button.

Once his tyres were up to temperature, Button passed the Impul Nissan of Daiki Sasaki and then moved up to fifth when the Mugen NSX began to slow down due to what appeared to be a puncture.

Then with just over 10 laps to go from the finish, Button got squeezed by the Cerumo Lexus and Team Goh's McLaren 720S GT3, with the resultant contact forcing a left-right puncture on Button's NSX-GT.

The 2009 Formula 1 world champion had to make an unscheduled pitstop immediately, which dropped him and Yamamoto down to last place.

The result marked the second non-points finish of 2019 for Button and Yamamoto, who also finished 15th at Okayama after being hit by Real Racing's Koudai Tsukakoshi while batting for the lead.

At the front, #37 TOM'S Lexus pair Yuhi Sekiguchi and Kazuki Nakajima secured a comfortable eight-second victory after resisting a mid-race attack from fellow Lexus crew Nick Cassidy and Kazuya Oshima.

Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa eventually finished second in the other TOM'S car once Cassidy passed Oshima - who shares the LeMans Lexus with Kenta Yamashita - four laps from the finish.

ARTA pair Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa finished fourth as the leading Honda, ahead of the Sard Lexus of Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama.

Nissan endured a difficult race, with the NISMO entry crashing out and the Impul GT-R slowing down on the final lap, before coming to a complete halt moments after crossing the finishing line.

Impul's James Rossiter and Sasaki finished a lap down in 10th, just ahead of the lead Nissan of Frederic Makowiecki and Kohei Hirate - which was hit with a penalty for overtaking under safety car.

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Suzuka SUPER GT: TOM's Lexus on pole, Button/Yamamoto seventh

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