GOODSMILE RACING & TeamUKYO RACE REPORT 5
2019 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 5 FUJI GT 500mile RACE
Event Date: August 3-4, 2019
Location: Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Number of Spectators: 60,600 people (Across two days)
Points Earned: 4P
Series Ranking: 12th (18.5P)
As the 2019 SUPER GT season heads into the second half of matches, from August 2nd to August 3rd, a 500 mile RACE was held at the Fuji speedway as a final race endurance for the summer.
After the tie of the fourth match, along with racers Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka, the team re-challenged the Total 24 Hours of Spa race, the most heated race of the GT3 group. This time, they competed with the top Mercedes Customer Racing team, Black Falcon, and the machine design celebrated the 15th anniversary of “Fate,” collaborating with TYPE-MOON RACING. Also, the other two cars from Black Falcon had designs that featured “Promare” and “Hatsune Miku,” and the three vehicles were entered into “Japan Art Car.” The results were rough, with a retire taking place in the middle, but from the intense level of the competition, they were able to gain some valuable experience.
In an intense Round 5, they received lots of stimulation
From the second match on, the machine used a high-speed circuit BoP (Balance of Performance). Because of this, as a 1340 kg heavy weight machine with 55 kg of balance weight, the restrictor plate expanded from 34.5 mm to 36 mm, and the middle acceleration rose by a little. The weight handicap included a 29 kg load following the previous match.
At the official practice starting at 8:50, the team, which began moving with driver Taniguchi’s first drive of the season, quickly finished the compound assessment for all three of the different tires brought, and they continued with the examination of the down force level and adjustment of the setup, and they marked their best time on the 15th lap, with a time of 1:35.591.
Also, after they passed the session middle stage at 9:40 and switched off with driver Kataoka, even in the long run, in anticipation of finals, they maintained a steady pace of around 1 minute 40 seconds. Even in the GT300 class designated race, driver Kataoka carries through the preliminary simulation and achieves a time of 1:38.930 while attempting a different plan.
”I received some good stimulation during Spa. This time, I’m full of motivation,” says driver Taniguchi. With the time that he achieved with softer tires, he finished the official practice in 4th place.
In the official preliminary round, started through the Circuit Safari that brought in lots of individual sponsors, at 14:50 in conditions with road temperatures above 40 degrees, driver Taniguchi was in charge of Q1 for three matches in a row.
Car number 4, which sped out onto the track very quickly after the start of the session, was able to shorten their time from 1:37.984 to 636 through repeated attacks, and advanced to the very top of the time board. However, right behind, Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 type cars number 360 (RUNUP RIVAUX GT-R) and 56 (Realize Nissan Vehicle School GT-R) were also repeatedly improving their times, and the Hatsune Miku car fell down to 3rd. Even though the radio in the pit said that “it was okay to keep attacking,” driver Taniguchi, prioritizing the preservation of the tires, returned to the pit and finished Q1 in 3rd.
At 15:35, driver Kataoka, keeping the momentum, continued to fight into Q2. It may be because the road temperature fell much more than expected, but the overall increase in time was small. After the two warmup laps, driver Kataoka immediately achieved a time of 1:37.848. Even though he said that “he lost a little in the A corner,” he kept a grip on the Q1 contrast comma with a difference of 2, achieving the 9th grid, and he continued on to the 500 meter (around 800 km) finals.
This day had extreme levels of heat just like the previous day, and it was a midsummer day with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees from the morning. By the time the noon warmup started, the road temperatures reached almost 60 degrees, and in these harsh conditions, at 13:40, 10 minutes off schedule, the final 500 mile parade lap began.
During these finals, there was an obligation to complete 4 pit-ins with driver changes, and it was a battle of 5 stints based on circumstances. Also, when driver Kataoka, who had experienced countless opening battles, was put in the race as a starter, he defeated car number 34 (Modulo KENWOOD NSX GT3) of the 8th grid and passed the control line.
However, even though there was an adjustment to ability, after that, the Mercedes AMG GT3′s absolute lack of top speed was exposed, and compared to the car number 4′s final top speed of 269.327km/h, cars such as car number 7 (D’station Vantage GT3), with its mid speed around 270km/h, and car number 55 (ARTA NSX GT3) began to overtake with their speed of a different class. Driver Kataoka flew into the routine pit at the beginning of the 23rd lap.
Driver Taniguchi, after receiving the baton, achieved his personal best of 1:40.328 during the 27th lap, followed up with times of 40.043 and 40.054, and when he arrived at the routine pit, he backed off his rivals and improved his position little by little.
”From the way I started to drive yesterday, I thought that I was doing pretty well compared to normal. I was able to pass a lot on the course.” Just like he says, when he recovers back to the 9th grid on the 40th lap, he passed car number 55 on the second lap and with the pit stops of the upper ranks, he kept advancing to the top, passing 6th, 5th, and 4th place.
And on the 50th lap, approaching the end phase of the stint, he elegantly overtakes car number 7 as they were side by side in the Coca Cola Corner (Corner A). He rose all the way to 3rd place, included in the championship front, before coming back to the pit.
Driver Kataoka, moving towards his second stint on the 55th lap, considering the match with the road, chose hard tires before entering the course, rather than opting for soft tires, which he had used during the first stint. Behind car number 7, which passed during work in the pit stop, he slowly began to recover his position, and by the individual crash by the GT500 class that occured at 100R, a Safety Car (SC) was put in, and after that, instead of loosening his hands for pursuit, he chased out in front of him. During the 88th lap, in the TGR Corner (Corner 1) at the street end, he fought off car number 7 and rose up to second place. Feeling an impending victory for the first time in a while, he passed the baton over to driver Taniguchi at the fourth stint on the 97th lap.
Right then, some trouble took place at the course side of the pit load entry, as a GT500 car lit on fire, and they entered an SC period for the second time that day. At this point, car number 4, which was in 10th place after returning to the course, achieved their final personal best time of 1:39.888 during lap 105 right after the restart, recording a lap of outrageous speed.
However, the hopes of advancing to the top ranks that disappeared due to a second SC were nowhere to be found, and his advance was stopped by the straight speed of cars 88 (Money Partners Lamborghini GT3), and by the 120th lap, the team decided to undercut.
In anticipation of the final phase long stint, driver Kataoka, who continued to choose the high-endurance hard tires and returned to 16th place, slowly recovered his position with persistent driving around 1:40 pace. However, 17 laps later, right when his rival returned to the course, the road temperature exceeded 40 degrees, and he couldn’t pass the two cars in front of him.
Also, as the temperature drops as the end draws near, driver Kataoka, fiercely clinging on, exhibited tricky defense that skillfully warded off car number 11 (GAINER TANAX GT-R) as they tried to approach from behind. As battles are started in the TGR Corner and Dunlop Corner (Corner B) with lines being replaced, he got closer to car number 61, sporting the same Dunlop tires as car number 11, and at the high speed Corner A during the 161st lap, he passes lined up BRZ from outside.
At the maximum race extension time of 18:40, with only 3 minutes left on the clock, he performs a beautiful overtake scene, and at the final 162nd lap, he passed the finish line in 8th place.
With the out in on the first lap satisfying only the driver change obligation, the winning machine at the battle during the 4th stint, the mother chassis type getting 2nd place with a 30kg weight reduction with BoP and no 3 stint tire replacements, it felt as though the GSR had been messed up by the SC. It’s predicted that, at the following 6th Autopolis, the mother chassis, with its great movement ability, will take the victory once again, but they want to bounce back and rally at the Suzuka 10h (48th Summer Endurance “BH Auction SMBC Suzuka 10 hour endurance race), and challenge the season’s second half of races once again.
■Comments from the Team
We think that there were different decisions, but there were no mistakes in the part of our routine, and in that respect, I am satisfied. We just thought that we might have a fighting chance for the first time in a while, and we wanted to at least make it to the victory podium. We considered the 4 stints that only consumed work, but as for the lack of replacement during the 3rd stint, that’s out of our control, and we have reflected on what we should have done during the very last pit stop. At that point, if we had been a bit more calm when looking at the change in road temperature, we maybe could have not gone for an undercut and used a softer tire, using our original strategy. But when we’re right there and we’re in that mood (where we think we can win,) we kind of want a strategy (laugh). That’s our weakness.
It was a race where we felt like we were bewitched by a fox. Our pace wasn’t bad, there were no mistakes made by the team or the mechanics, and there were cars that benefited from the safety cars, though that can’t be helped, but we didn’t lose much or benefit. At the end, when we went for the undercut we got overcut, and it was a bad weekend that we lose sleep over, and it leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Both of our drivers drove really well, and especially Taniguchi was really affected by Spa, so he was in the zone and extremely fast (laugh). There where a lot of places where we really shined, but races are pointless if you don’t get results, since results are everything. But in that way, before we go to the next round, we have to break down why we lost this time.
I was able to drive with a lot of fast people at Spa, received a lot of stimulation, in a good way, and I feel like my heart has rejuvenated a little. Recently, even during battles, I’ve noticed that I’ve been trying to be too clean with my driving. This weekend, the preliminary round was great, the finals were great, I was able to feel really good, and I set my eyes on the top rankings, but I keep getting flashbacks to the safety cars. Kataoka’s last overtake (when he took 8th) was the climax of the race, and I got really excited, but even though we were really fast this time around, our results didn’t really reflect that. The race doesn’t only take place on the course. But it was a race of chance where our closest rivals had been defeated, so the chance was so big that we thought, “if we don’t win now, when will we?”
We were planning to make it a race where we reach the victory podium, but we struggled more than we expected, with our rivals choosing 2-tire replacements or no tire replacements at all, and the timing of the safety car also had a huge impact, and in the end, we were 8th. We went through the race with almost no mistakes at all, but with our current equipment, including ability balancing, it’s pretty clear that it’s difficult for us to win. Today, even when I just think about my stint, I feel like I was on a roll (in charge of laps 107/162), and even though I completely tired myself out, I feel like it ended with disappointing results. We couldn’t even get the large number of points that we were aiming for, and the battle at the end wasn’t very good either. There’s not much left anymore, but for now, we just need to get one win. I want to do a race that makes me feel that I can aim for the very top.