Super GT and Fuji Rd 2 was always going to be one of our toughest race weekends as we started the weekend with no pre season testing at this venue unlike all the other Championship contenders.
Despite our lack of testing we got of to a great start in free practice setting a time of 1.38.0, a time 1.8 secs faster than we had recorded last season. We felt confident for qualifying, unfortunately with tire restrictions under SuperGT rules we didn’t have the optimum tire choice (Medium compound) for qualifying meaning we couldn’t replicate the potential shown in free practice.
The SuperGT rules state that whatever tire you qualify on, you also have to start the race with. This was a bit of a blow as we had only qualified 12th and knew our starting tire was not so strong. There was however a silver lining to this apparent setback because it meant that we would have the choice of tire we wanted for the 2nd & 3rd stints which was the super fast Yokohama harder compound. I put my hand up to do the first stint as I knew it was going to be the toughest and it sure was.
I threaded my way up to 9th place only to hit oil from the Team JLoc Lamborghini which had blown a tire out at the end of the 1.5km straight around lap 10. Our car snapped immediately into a spin and we lost the 3 positions I had fought hard to get at the beginning. Again I set off on my way and managed to climb back to 8th by the pit stop.
Unfortunately just before pitting in I could see some warning lights on the dashboard warning me of some engine problems. Fujii-San took over the wheel but unfortunately for him he could not push as we were in limp mode and not long after we had to retire.
Overall it was a strong performance from our team but a few unlucky things just took away the chance for us to fight for another podium finish.
We are now eagerly looking forward to round 3 and a return to Thailand.