A Super GT driver is miraculously unhurt after a serious accident on the front straight of Fuji Speedway during Wednesday’s 450-kilometer race.
Mitsunori Takaboshi, fighting for the lead in his GT500-class Nissan Z, swerved at the last possible moment to avoid a collision with the slow-moving GT300 Toyota MC86 of Takeshi Suehiro. The Z struck the outer wall of the track hard, which sent it back spinning across the straightaway where, somehow, it wasn’t collected by another driver.
Thankfully Takaboshi was able to get out of the car under his own power and suffered no injuries, according to Motorsport.com. He was transported to a hospital for further checks, just to be safe.
Watching the incident, it’s clear that Takaboshi couldn’t have been aware of the presence of Suehiro’s Arnage Racing 86. The Z was closely following the leading Toyota Supra driven by Yuhi Sekiguchi, and it completely obscured Takaboshi’s vision ahead. Sekiguchi himself said that he was looking to capitalize on the opportunity for a slipstream offered by the hobbled GT300 car in front of him, which had been stricken with a gearbox problem and was traveling at less than 60 mph at the time of the crash. From Motorsport.com:
“As was the case with the Prius in front [of the Arnage car], my aim was to use the slipstream to the limit,” said Sekiguchi.
“As for Takaboshi, who was behind me, it seemed he didn’t see [the Arnage car] and was too slow to react, and crashed due to a sudden swerve. I heard that he is ok physically, so that is a relief.”
Juichi Wakisaka, who runs the Sard Toyota team Sekiguchi races for, seemed to admit some regret for his driver’s actions — although, chalking it all up to an “attacking spirit” probably absolves Sekiguchi of more culpability than many might argue he deserves:
Wakisaka, himself a three-time champion in GT500, strongly suggested that Sekiguchi could have acted differently to avoid the incident that brought a premature end to the race.
“Regarding the incident with Takaboshi, there are some who would say [Sekiguchi’s driving] was dangerous,” he told Motorsport.com’s Japanese edition.
“But I’m the team boss and Sekiguchi is an important driver to us. Therefore, while protecting him, I want to ensure something like this never happens again.
‘There are good parts of Sekiguchi’s [attacking] spirit, and there may be a few dangerous things. We’re thinking about whether we could have done things a little differently with Sekiguchi, and we want to take that into the future.”
While Sekiguchi is certainly at fault to an extent, I’m curious why no white flag was being waved for slow-moving traffic ahead. Given the steep closing rate and the fact Sekiguchi was traveling three times faster than Suehiro’s ailing 86, it’s also possible the Supra driver just wasn’t ready to catch the 86 so quickly, and made a later evasive maneuver than he otherwise would have.
Accidents like this one — where a driver moves for slow traffic that those close behind can’t possibly know is coming — are often some of the worst we see in motorsport. It’s the same sort of scenario that led to Billy Monger’s horrific crash during a Formula 4 race at Donington Park that resulted in the then-17-year-old losing both of his legs. This could have gone much, much worse for Takaboshi or any of the other drivers that shared the straight with him in that moment, and suffice to say it’s a relief that he emerged unscathed.