SUPER GT Round 3 Autopolis
- May 31, 2014 Qualifying：15th
- June 1, 2014 Finals：16th
For Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4, the third race is a big disappointment with no points！
■They aim for another win at the circuit that they won last year.
May 31st was the opening qualifier for the SUPER GT third race Autopolis (Oita). In most years it begins in the fall, but this time the date had been changed to May, so at this Autopolis it was a rare sunny day at 30 degrees with the road temperature recorded at 50 degrees. Last year they won at this circuit, and the Hatsune Miku GT Project succeeded in reaching an all time record two win streak, so like it or not the expectations were running high.
The Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4 received a weight handicap of 80kg due to their two win streak, and with the BoP just before the race adding an additional 10kg, it was weighed down by an unimaginable load.
During the practice drive before the qualifier, Kataoka ran a (1’48.607), and Taniguchi (1’47.660) which was recorded as their best time and put them in 12th place. After running 42 laps for about 2 hours of driving time, and suffering from the influence of the matching of the tires and the weight handicap, the two drivers did not mesh well with their car.
■An unexpected defeat in the first qualifying round…
The first round of the qualifiers arrives and steering was entrusted to Kataoka. His recorded best time was 1’47.582 and somehow while he was stopped in the service area, the other drivers were getting good enough times to be breaking course records one after another, and he ended the qualifier dropping down to 16th place.
Unfortunately, passing through the first qualifying round did not happen, but by accident a car’s time was deleted and so the team advanced to 15th place and the final decision put them in the 15th starting place on the grid.
■Unable to catch up at the opening
Disqualified for win after making contact with another car
The day started off with such clear skies that one almost didn’t worry about the next days final decision or the weather. During the morning’s free practice, the car and tires were performing fine, but their times weren’t improving somehow. However, during the warm-up right before start time, there was a positive comment made by the driver.
Kataoka acted as the starting driver. At this point it was 28 degrees and road temperature was 43 degrees. At a rolling start, #31 apr Prius became unable to move and Kataoka moved into their position. He jumped up even further to 12th place during the first lap. After the 3rd lap he moved up yet again to 11th place.
The nightmare came in the 9th lap. The two GT500s bumped into each other and the rear left wheel became damaged. The tire also burst which made them unable to move from the middle of the course. While making an emergency pit stop they fell behind almost a whole lap and quickly lost their chance at a victory.
The Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4 was in last place, but with a constant lap time of 47 seconds and the other cars’ pit stops, they gradually caught up to 16th place. After the 31st lap, they made a routine pit stop and left the pit after changing drivers and tires. In the beginning of the last lap they fell to 21st place but with an all out run by Taniguchi, they finished at 18th place.
■The bad luck continues and victory slips through their hands
In the 42nd lap a devastating accident occurs. #30 IWASAKI apr GT-R has problems with its breaks and goes off course at the first corner. A crash big enough to break through the tire barrier and guard rail occurred. Later, white smoke began rising from the engine of the GT500 and it stopped on the side of the course. Naturally, a red flag was raised and the safety car was dispatched. It took time to collect the crashed car, with a 7 lap long safety car run. Because the position the safety car had entered at was bad, they lost a lost a lap trying get back in and close the gap and with 10 total laps remaining, their hope to finish within the point zone was crushed.
The safety car left in the 49th lap. After the race had resumed, during the battle with the #7 Studie BMW Z4 which was driving ahead of them, the #7 made contact with the GT500, and there was nothing more that could be done. At the end of the race, the #9 National Otonokisaku Academy NAC Porsche with DR spun out and so the GT500 was able to move ahead by one place and ended the race in 16th place.
Despite starting with a two-win streak, the 3rd Autopolis race ended with the worst result possible – no points.
Currently, they are defending the leader seat with 40 points, but #11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS is at 2nd place with 37 points and approaching with only a difference of 3 points to the lead. They intend to restart at full strength at the next race at Sportsland SUGO.
Our lap time wasn’t bad, but the problem was our qualifying place and definitely the accident we had. The timing of the safety cars after the accident was bad as well. On top of that we also accidentally pumped into that other car. At any rate we had some bad luck. Next time at SUGO we will need a lot of preparation before the actual event, so from here on we’re going to start preparing!
It’s a shame. For the final decision, if you look at the race as a whole, we were getting our pace back and our strategy was solid, so we should have at least gotten the minimum score, but with the crash and the wheel breaking, that ended everything. After entering the pit we fell behind on laps and on top of that the safety cars coming in at a bad position, so it feels like everything was backfiring. Normally, we could have closed the gap after the security cars, but we tried a lot of different things this time and we found some good areas, so next time the whole team is hoping we will make a comeback!
This time around, our flow during the race was bad as a whole. I don’t know if it was the choice of tire or the weight but somehow we drove out chasing something that wasn’t there and at the end of the day we put ourselves into a bad flow. It’s best to do whatever we can to not lose, but if we can try to reset our flow from this race, I think we even have a high probability of being the next champions.
I think it was a race with bad flow, and bad luck to the point that we couldn’t even see the finish line at all. Kataoka’s crash was bad luck, and after changing with me, even though I tried my best to score even one point, I fell behind a lap due to the safety car’s positioning. It’s almost like we were being told by God that he wouldn’t give us a single point the whole weekend. It seemed like there was no chance for the car to get zero points, and based on our placement in the qualifier I think we could have even gotten something like 5th place. This race really felt completely futile.
I got a little caught up in our rivalry with the other GT500. We bumped into each other, my tire ripped, and we completely lost our chances of winning there. The body got hit from front to back, the wheel split, and the tire burst, so it became a situation where I could only drive half a lap. I think it would have been a pretty good race if we had been running as normal. The safety car’s timing was bad as well, but we wouldn’t have been in that situation if I hadn’t hit the other car. The bad luck in getting caught on that other car really made all the difference…