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The head of SARD acknowledged that their driver's maneuver was the reason for the Z's crash.


Although the crash was caused by a series of unusual events, not least the slow-moving GT300 car on a straight that measures more than a kilometre in length, some drivers have suggested Sekiguchi shouldn’t have left it so late to duck out of the slipstream when he had two cars running behind him.

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.

Sekiguchi added: "I just tapped the canard [aerodynamic device] with my finger to see if it was broken. I'm very disappointed that was interpreted as working on the car.

"But rules are rules, so I have to accept it and we'll try again."

Since all subsequent laps after the race resumed took place under the safety car, the SARD Toyota was handed a 40-second penalty in lieu of the drive-through, dropping Sekiguchi and Nakayama to 13th in the final classification.

'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."

For his part, Sekiguchi told Motorsport.com's Japanese edition that he simply wanted to take as much advantage of the slipstream as possible from both the Arnage Toyota and the Toyota Prius GT300 car that was running just ahead of the leaders before diving for the pitlane.

"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."

The SARD Toyota of Sekiguchi and Yuichi Nakayama jumped into third place by pitting just before the first full course yellow period - which was eventually followed by a red flag - caused by Hisashi Wada crashing his #22 R’Qs Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the exit of Turn 13.

When the race restarted after a long stoppage, the two-leading TOM’S Toyota GR Supras clashed at the first restart at Turn 1, allowing Sekiguchi to come through and take the lead of the race.

However, a first victory for SARD since 2020 went begging when Sekiguchi was found to have touched the front-left corner of his Toyota during the second stoppage, breaching the regulations regarding cars being worked on during a red flag.

Wakisaka took blame for the penalty as he said Sekiguchi was following his instruction to check the car for damage.

"Since we had the announcement that drivers could get out of the cars, I instructed Sekiguchi to check himself where the damage was," Wakisaka said. "Then he touched the car. I think it's my mistake."
 
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