2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 4 FUJI GT 300km RACE
- August 8, 2015 Qualifying：5th
- August 9, 2015 Finals：18th
Although we had good momentum, there was a problem and we ended up regrettably with no points!
■ August 8th (Saturday) We had good momentum in the qualifying session.
The SUPER GT 4th round at the Fuji Speedway, the halfway point of the season. Since we dropped our ranking significantly due to a tire burst and ended up with no points in the previous race at Buriram, Thailand, we want to aim for the podium this time.
On the 8th, during the practice run on the morning of the qualifying session, the weather was cloudy and the temperature did not rise. It was a run with hard tires, but both the time and machine were not bad. We ended up finishing with the 8th fastest time.
Then came the first qualifying session (Q1). The temperature was 28 degrees and the road surface temperature was 35 degrees, which was not as high as expected, but Kataoka who did the attack first, recorded a best time of “1’38.669”. The leaders were in the low 38 second range, so our position dropped gradually, but we somehow managed to stay in 12th place and advance to the second session.
Taniguchi was in charge of the second qualifying session (Q2). He recorded a time of “1’38.153″ with an attack after racing several laps. According to Taniguchi, the tires seemed to be feeling good. We passed the qualifying session in 5th place, and we obtained a start from the 5th grid for the finals, which was our highest position grid this reason.
■ August 9th (Sunday) Although the Miku SLS was racing well among the top…
The machines and tires were in good condition, and the motivation of the driver was also high. With such good momentum, the final race started. Kataoka was the first to grasp the steering wheel. Immediately after the rolling start, he passed two cars in the first lap and returned to the home stretch in 3rd place. After, he was passed by car #7, the Studie BMW Z4, and dropped to 4th place, but the battle reached a deadlock. The cars from 2nd place to 6th place all lined up like a train for over 10 laps.
On the 11th lap, we were passed by car #11, the GAINER TANAX SLS, and dropped to 5th place, but on the 15th lap, we passed car #65, the LEON SLS, who was dropping in ranking, and we were back in 4th place.
After that, there were no changes in ranking, and we made a pit stop on the 23rd lap. This was when a serious problem occurred with the Miku SLS. We could not quite get the tires installed, and we lost about 20 seconds. Furthermore, right after exiting the pit, we received a grievous radio contact from Taniguchi. He said that the front right tire is about to come off. Since it occurred at the point after passing the first corner, we were forced to do a slow run for a full lap, then make an emergency pit stop.
This race was a 300km sprint race, and half the race was already over. At this point, we completely lost our chance at winning. After reattaching the tires and returning to the course, we had dropped to 23rd place, and there was a two lap difference from the leaders.
Nonetheless, we wanted points, even if it was just a single point. Although Taniguchi gradually moved up in rank with his tenacious racing, we could not catch up with the lap difference, and we ended the race in 18th place.
There is no doubt that we suffered a great loss in terms of the championships, with no points for two consecutive races. However, the next race is the 1000km at Suzuka. It is a race where we can earn more points than usual, so we want to win there and stop the bad momentum.
■Comments from people involved
I thought that we could win this time…but it just did not go well.
I could finally see all the cars and tires, and I felt that we could compete, so I am satisfied.
We were not losing in the battle between the GT3 machines either.
We will definitely be at the top next time!
It really is a regrettable and disappointing result. If I were to say something a bit strict from my position, I would say that we need to make sure the same thing does not happen again by creating something like a checking mechanism in the team in order to prevent machine problems like this. Especially during this season, there must be moments where the mind wanders working in the heat. We have to improve the things that we have neglected until now.
Considering the expectations that the fans and sponsors had this time, I feel really terrible about it. We will refocus our minds for what is ahead.
It was a disappointing result because the free practice and qualifying sessions were good. I think that it is necessary to refocus the atmosphere of the team so that we do not make the same mistake like this time. It is not that we are slacking, but if we do not properly address these things, there is a possibility that we will make the same mistake.
This is a problem that the whole team must work together on.
We came to this point in the season while carrying bad momentum, but this time at Fuji, we felt we did well and it felt like we had a good chance. Looking at the results, car #55 (ARTA CR-Z) was fast, but it was more than possible for us to be 2nd place. However, we had a problem in the pit, and we lost our chance to compete when we had to make another pit stop. The momentum is really bad this year.
For the next race at Suzuka, I think we will be racing with the lightest weight at Suzuka since I came to GSR, so I would like to aim for the top.
I started in the 5th position, and made my way up to 3rd place in the opening lap, but I could not pass the machines racing in front, and returned back to 5th place again. However, it is not that I could not keep up, and I was in a position to pass them back if there was an opening. I was looking for an opportunity, but my stint required me to somewhat hold back, so I did not overdo it.
What happened in the pit was disappointing, but if we were able to race, we could have competed for the podium. I am sorry that we could not show good results to those who supported us. On a positive note, we will be able to challenge the next race at Suzuka without increasing the weight, so I think we will be able to let it loose.