2015 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 6 SUGO GT 300km RACE
- September 19, 2015 Qualifying：10th
- September 20, 2015 Finals：16th
Wrapped up in pit troubles, the SUGO race ends with no points
■September 19th (Sat) Difficult struggle in the preliminaries
This season, things have not gone as planned for GOODSMILE RACING ＆ TeamUKYO. Every year the SUGO race is difficult, but there was some excitement that this might be the year.
In the morning on the day of the preliminaries (19th), the practice run driver was Kataoka, and he recorded a “1’20.977” time. The settings were fine tuned before the run, but during the run a machine that had gone off course had to be retrieved, and he finished in 13th place under a red flag.
The first preliminary run was Taniguchi’s responsibility. The top group was coming in at the 19 second mark, so Taniguchi’s time of “1‘20.247” was pretty rough. His rank kept on falling as well, but somehow he ended up just making the top 12.
The second preliminary run was by Kataoka. Due a machine going off course right after the start of the run, there was a red flag up right away, and after the red flag was lifted he recorded “1’20.688” time. However, the fight for first place stayed in the 19 second range, and he finished in 10th place. As a result, the start position for the SUGO finals was in the 10th place grid.
■September 20th (Sun) Big loss after being unable to pit out…
The final race had arrived. Despite the poor starting position from the preliminaries, because the place in the standings had been slowly improved through the finals, things were looking up. As always, the start was entrusted to Kataoka.
SUGO is known for being a narrow course with a limited number of overtake points, so a change in rank in the very first lap could not be expected. The battle for position among the top teams was fierce, but the Miku SLS raced along remaining in 10th place. The gap was closing from before, but there was still no chance to overtake the car ahead, and as the time to consider a pit in approached the GT500 machine crashed. A safety flag was raised.
Once the signal was given for the pit open, almost every machine rushed to pit. However, this is where the race was decided. Near the exit from pit road, a machine became unable to move while on pit road, so almost every machine in the pit at the time was forced to stop. The machines that had already left the pit, as well as those that had not yet entered the pit, continued to run, and the gap continued to grow.
Also, once the safety flag was lifted, pit road had a red signal, so once again there was no choice but to stop. Already a lap down on the machines that had been able to continue racing, the opportunity for a win was fully extinguished.
Once he finally exited the pit and completed the out lap he had fallen near the bottom of the standings. Taniguchi came in as the next driver and raced hard trying to improve their position by even a little, and slowly but steadily their position improved. By the 65th lap he had moved into 16th place, but overcoming such a large deficit was difficult, and the checkered flag came with him still in 16th place.
It was the third no point race of the season, and in the remaining two races they needed to put up good results by any means necessary.
The only chance for a pit in was during that pit open, and the congestion after that could have been foreseen, so I think the management side could have thought about things differently.
We kept pace with the race, so it is unfortunate that it was decided by the good or bad luck of pit position. Really, we just can’t catch a break this season.
This race was basically like being in an accident. Everything was finished with that pit accident. The power of the GT-R and JAF-GT didn’t come into play. Having said that, the number 11 car was on the winner’s podium, so it isn’t like we didn’t have a chance. We might have been able move up more, and it is regrettable that we couldn’t give all of our fans a better outcome.
However, despite the circumstances, I am truly thankful for Taniguchi’s hard work and good driving. Next time, I hope we can have a plan in place to avoid that type of accident.
For the third straight year the SUGO didn’t go well. This time, we knew the Saturday practice run would be hotly contested, and in the preliminaries we were somehow able to break through in the first, but just barely. In the second we were 10th place, but it feels like it could have been possible to reach around 8th.
Kataoka raced hard to keep our 10th place, but after that the pit from the safety flag made it all go to waste. By the time we left the pit we were basically in last place, and no matter how hard we raced to move up, we ended with another no point finish. This year things really are not going well, and it must be painful for all of those cheering for us.
Despite difficulties we we raced as best we could, and if we could have seen Taniguchi’s driving after the pit out I think it would have been a much more interesting race. Despite the difficulties there were things we could have done, and with the incident on pit road that can’t just be summed up by saying it was bad luck, we ended up with an unfortunate result.
I feel so sorry for letting down all of our fans who kept waving their flags on the straightaway right until the bitter end.