Nakayama brought home SARD’s Toyota GR Supra for a first victory for himself and Heikki Kovalainen since last year’s Autopolis race by a margin of 10 seconds.
The decisive moment of the race came when poleman Nirei Fukuzumi in the ARTA Honda NSX-GT and Kovalainen pitted together on lap 26, after which Tomoki Nojiri struggled badly on his out lap in the ARTA car and was passed for the net lead by Nakayama.
From there the race appeared straightforward for the SARD crew, but after the race Nakayama admitted that he was shown a fuel warning light on his dashboard with two laps to go, and that exiting the last corner on the final lap the engine started cutting.
“The stint was 40 laps long, and the fuel economy seemed to be tight,” said Nakayama. “After I took the lead I had to save fuel on some laps.
“I was told by the pit wall that we would be okay on fuel to the end, but after we pulled a 10-second lead, a ‘No Fuel’ warning was displayed and I became anxious.
“I had two laps left at the time, so I was nervous, and then exiting the last corner on the last lap, there were signs I’d run dry. I coasted to the control line and took the chequered flag so slowly that I wouldn’t have passed a GT300 car. I wanted to flash the headlights [as I crossed the line] to express my joy, but I…