2016 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round7 BURIRAM SUPER GT RACE
- October 8, 2016 Qualifying：9th
- October 9, 2016 Finals：8th
In the 7th round, overseas race in Buriram, Thailand, we finished in 8th place with no trouble.
■ October 8th (Saturday): We could not reach the speed of the top teams and finished 9th in the qualifying session.
This was the third year of the SUPER GT Thailand. Last year it was held in June, but this year’s 7th round was set in October, same as the first year. The 3rd round was canceled due to the Kumamoto earthquake, and that substitute race is planned to be held at the Twin Ring Motegi, and since that substitute race is practically the 7th round, the Thailand race was held with a full weight handicap (point x 2kg) (the handicap is normally reduced to point x 1kg in the 7th round).
The circuit where the race took place was the “Chang International Circuit” in Buriram, about six hours by car from Bangkok. Although it was forecasted that the race week would mostly be thunderstorms, the day of the qualifying session was sunny enough to exceeded a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.
On the 8th, the morning practice of the day of the qualifying session was of course dry. First Kataoka, then switching to Taniguchi, they each got a feel of the machine. They finished with their best time of “1’34.542″, and they continued with used tires, running with a time in the 34 second range, so their condition was not bad. However, their rivals recorded times in the 33 second range one after another, so they finished in 14th place in the end.
Taniguchi was in charge of the first qualifying session (Q1). In order to get a clear lap, he assessed the situation from the pit for about five minutes, then took off. He recorded a time of “1’34.161″ but he gradually moved down in position, finishing in 15th place, which was the cut off. It seemed like we would not pass through Q1, but there was a car whose four wheels came off (going off course), and its time was eliminated, allowing us to barely make it through at 14th place.
Kataoka takes the steering wheel for the second qualifying session (Q2). He records a time of “1 ’33.673″ in the attack of the 4th lap. However, since the top teams began recording times in the 32 second range one after another, he finished in 9th place. It was decided that he will start from the 9th grid in the finals.
■ October 9th (Sunday) There were no mistakes or troubles, but …
On the 9th, the day of the final, the sun’s light was intense from the morning. We recorded a time of “1’35.160″ in the free practice, and “1’34.778″ at the Circuit Safari, where a two-story bus ran.
Kataoka is the starting driver. Even though he overtook one car from the 1st lap and moved up to the 8th position, he was overtaken by the car #87 ((triple a Lamborghini GT3) on the 3rd lap and returned to the original position. After, car #31 (TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT) stuck right behind him, and although Kataoka used the GT 500 to widen the gap, car #31 caught up soon and finally overtook him on the 14th lap.
Although our position dropped to 10th, in the 16th lap we passed car #87 and become 9th, in the 18th lap we passed car #88 (Manepa Lamborghini GT3) and became 8th, and since the Miku AMG had delayed its timing for the pit stop, it was running in first place on the 29th lap when the other machines were going in the pit one after the other.
Even after that, Kataoka continued to stretch it, and went into the pit on the 38th lap. The pit work time was shortened by only exchanging the two tires on the left side. The driver was changed to Taniguchi and returned to the course.
We dropped to 10th place in the out-lap, but on the 42nd lap we returned to 9th place. However, on the 48th lap we were overtaken by car #65 (LEON CVSTOS AMG-GT), but there was a machine that crashed on 53rd lap, and we were up in 9th place again. At this point, the gap between the machine in front of us was large, and we thought we would finish in 9th place, but there was a machine that entered the pit with trouble right before the end of the race, so we finished just in time for 8th place.
From this result, we now have 36 points and our ranking is 6th. Although the difference from the top is 18 points, we would like to go for the win in the two consecutive races at Twin Ring Motegi.
■Comments from people involved
It was a complete defeat this time. I thought we were able to catch up a little with the others in the previous race at Suzuka but…We need to examine whether we have been able to see the true potential of the car. The weight (weight handicap) may also be one cause. When you look at the speed of the other cars, I am not sure if the AMG is suitable for the next Motegi, but I think there are still things we can do, so I will come up with a plan for the next race.
From the results, this was a disappointing race. Among the GT3 group, the GT-R was fast and the Mother Chassis group could run that fast without having to change tires. We did not really have a chance to compete. This time, we had loaded 66kg of weight handicap, and the other tires were also fast. We had been seeing the car throughout this season, and we have an idea of the good parts and bad parts, so we have to somehow make sure to execute what we can without mistakes. I would like to recover in the next two consecutive races.
I do not know if it was due to weight, but we were just lacking in speed. We were able to start from 9th place and finish in 8th place, but this was just that we survived by racing steadily, and it was a lucky 8th. This situation is really not good. Everyone was especially fast in sector 1, and in the next race at Motegi, the circuit is like this sector 1, so we have to regain our speed.
From the start, I could not do a sharp run, so I had no choice but to run steadily. Nonetheless, I thought I might have a chance if I did not fall behind the top group in the middle, but I was not able to compete for the win. Everything about the car, from the balance to the potential, was average, and it was a situation where it was not bad but not good either. If there was actually a problem, it would get faster if we fix it, but there is nothing. This is a bit serious.