TEAM MUGEN, planning to compete in the GT300 class this season, carried out a shakedown test and announcement of its “No.16 MUGEN CR-Z GT” on July 4th at Twin Ring Motegi (Tochigi Prefecture). The team will field Honda’s Hybrid sports “CR-Z” with driver duo of Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima. TEAM MUGEN will take part in the GTA official test at Suzuka Circuit scheduled on July 20th and 21st before its debut at Round 4 Sportsland SUGO on July 27th and 28th.
TEAM MUGEN is holding “TEAM MUGEN Send-off event” at Honda Welcome Plaza in Tokyo from 11AM on July 14th. Honda & MUGEN fans as well as SUPER GT fans are encouraged to participate as Mutoh and the team manager are going to make appearance at the event.
TEAM MUGEN’s announcement. From left: Team principal Yasui, Team manager Kumakura, Mutoh, and Nakajima.
It would be the first time since 2005 for TEAM MUGEN to participate independently to SUPER GT (entered as M-TEC). Team principal Kazuhide Yasui explained the objective, “To compete in the premier domestic race with a racing hybrid car to acquire and maturate the cutting-edge technology as well as nurture young engineers, underlining an aim to improve technological capability for the future.” But, on the other hand, he showed his determination by saying, “I know well enough that SUPER GT isn’t an easy race, but we will take on the challenge with a victory in our vision. We will aim for a win this season.”
Hideki Mutoh, who boasts notable footprints with Indy car racing of US, Formula Nippon, etc and also in GT500 class, will take up the role of ace driver. Accompanying Mutoh and competing in SUPER GT for the first time is young Daisuke Nakajima, who made his debut in Formula Nippon last year. Junichi Kumakura, who lead TEAM MUGEN (M-TEC) to GT300 champion in 2004, will assume Team manager to direct this mighty pair of drivers. Their racing car will wear MUGEN’s standard number, 16.
Team principal Yasui explains his team organization.
No.16 MUGEN CR-Z GT is built based on Honda’s hybrid sports car, “CR-Z.” It mounts HR28TT engine (2.8L V6 Twin turbo), developed based on J35Z, an engine supplied to LMP2 class of Le Mans 24 hour, generating 300 horsepower, with a 35kW (50kW maximum) motor to complete the hybrid. The engine is mounted in a mid-engine layout with a transmission placed right behind it longitudinally and a motor placed on the left side of its driver-shaft. This racing hybrid system is said to have been developed with a view of using it in GT500 class, and receives technical support from Honda. It was also revealed that the system was co-developed by Honda and Zytec.
Inverter (orange) and battery (black part underneath inverter) are placed in the passenger-seat area.
Honda and Zytek logos are seen on the battery.
Tire is made by Bridgestone, but it looks like it will not be the same as the one wore by ARTA Garaiya in GT300, rather it is closer to the one made for GT500 due to its size. It also seems to adopt the know-how of aerodynamics from HSV-010 GT in GT500 around in the rear-end.
According to Team manager Kumakura, the team ran the car yesterday also, but there were many tentative parts installed on the machine since it was just completed building the night before. So it was natural that the car faced few minor problems. Together with the rain yesterday, it really was just a cruise. “I can’t say anything in specific since we still don’t have data, but I think we will be able to take a strategy that utilizes the advantage of hybrid, namely the fuel efficiency, enhanced power, etc. That’s one of the thrills for sure.” TM Kumakura is already prepared for the series race.
And today, the second day of shakedown, was blessed with sunny sky which allowed MUGEN CR-Z GT to accumulate laps. Nakajima seemed to be satisfied with the feeling he got from the car in spite of a short test run, “It is very well made as a car. Indeed, there were some minor problems, but those were the only factor to remind me that it was actually a brand new war.”
Team put the car in their garage to check thoroughly even in the middle of session.
Ace driver of the team Mutoh said, “It was stunning how the car was too quiet when I went out the pit with just the motor (laugh). Our mechanics worked so hard to build this car with almost no sleep two days ago, so I wanted to make sure to have a good run with the car. But it felt like it was already settled (with base setting, etc) and very well made. We saw minor problems here and there, but those were the places we were not able to give enough time to. First of all, it’s got huge torque which makes it easy to drive. In the second run today, Daisuke went out on a new set of tires and lapped at pretty good time. But, for the driver, the car has a lot to do during the race (laugh). Balance of the hybrid, charged amount, supercharging pressure of the turbo, etc. It’s challenging, but a good challenge though.
Nakajima added, “Indeed, it is a new challenge, isn’t it? I’m very pleased to be given this job. Everybody may think that the car gets gigantically fast because of the hybrid, but, against all expectations, it’s just like other normal cars. Well, it does feel like extra torque kicks in gradually. But I don’t think it requires a driver to change his driving style. When I got that good time on a new set of tires, I was “flat-out” as a driver. Of course, a lot can be done with the setting of the car.” He wrapped up with a smile. It was very fruitful shakedown which raised expectations for its debut at Round 4 Sportsland SUGO.
Mutoh, TM Kumakura, and Nakajima
Inside the rear-hatch of CR-Z. Engine mounted in mid-engine layout with a transmission in behind.
Silver motor can be seen in between rear suspension arms.
Goes out the pit with almost no sound when driven by motor.
Mutoh gives advice to Nakajima before he takes the wheel.
Nakajima recorded an impressive lap time on a new set of tires.