Round2 Fuji : Preview
On May 3rd and 4th, 2012 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 2 "FUJI GT 500km RACE" will be hosted at Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture). In recent years, the event has been distanced at 400km or 300km, but the event will reclaim its privilege of long-distance race by going back to traditional 500km this year. Longer distance means higher possibility of unexpected during the race, and team strategies would vary by the assumption each team would make. In other words, more excitements and more dramatic turnarounds are the what waiting at the race. Zoom in for one of the hottest race in the early season.
Watch closely to the pit strategies of different teams.
Most of the SUPER GT races are battled out in 300km, but upcoming Fuji event held during the Golden Week had traditionally been raced in a long-distance of 500km. However, the distance had been shortened to 400km in recent years (300km for last yearas race since the event was held right after the Great East Japan Earthquake) due to the social situation, etc. This year, the traditional race returns with 500km.
With the race distance being 500km, one of the key factor to focus would be the timing of pit-stop. If a SUPER GT car were to go a distance of 500km, it would require 2 pit-stops. In fact, the regulation requires cars to make 2 pit-stops too. Then it would come down to: At which timing should a car come in to the pit? What would be the driving order of drivers and the distance to cover in a stint? It would require teams to consider many different strategies by taking into account afore factors. Possibility of accidents may rise given the long distance. Team's capability will be tested in how to respond to such situations. Fans must keep in mind these elements while witnessing unpredictable developments in the long stretch.
Can SC430 score two-in-a-row win at its home track?
Fuji Speedway staging the round 2 is a globally renowned high-speed track. It consists a 1.5km-long straightaway and super high speed turns with 100R and 300R curves. Contrastingly, there are low- and mid-speed technical turns like mountain roads in the latter half of circuit where the machine setup and driver's ability will be tested
As known by many, Fuji Speedway is a Toyota affiliated circuit and is the home track for the drivers of SC430 who have had many testing there. Considering Lexus SC430 boasts advantage in high-speed range, the fleet must be targeting for two straight wins after the season opener. No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa/Kohei Hirate), winner of the previous race, as well as No.39 DENSO KOBELSCO SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka/Hiroaki Ishiura), the team that snatched the pole-position last year, are the strong candidates.
Incidentally, last year's Round 2 Fuji turned out to be turmoil due to rain. No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm) used all the potential it possessed to grab the victory. Of course, defending champion No.1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli) is a force to be reckoned with. If we speak about SC430 and Nissan GT-R, then: what about Honda HSV-010 GT? HSV-010 GT is assumed to be not good at a high-speed circuit, but No.100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa/Naoki Yamamoto) won the second race of last year's JAF Grand Prix/Fuji Sprint Cup. Considering the team finished second at the opening round, which is fairly comparable to a win, they may well be trying to take No.38 car down and steal away a win this time.
Will foreign cars rage on the battle field or will domestic cars give a counterpunch!?
In GT300 class, No.11 GAINER DIXCEL R8 LMS (Tetsuya Tanaka/Katsuyuki Hiranaka) won the season opener at Okayama. Audi R8 LMS Ultra accomplished debut win. Porsches were also strong represented by the pole-start and second-place finish of No.911 ENDLESS TAISAN 911 (Kyosuke Mineo/Naoki Yokomizo). With the natural speed on straightaway, European cars (so-called FIA-GT3 specification cars) must be well suited to the high-speed track of Fuji. Expectations rise for strong performances by Europeans cars including defending champion No.0 GST HATSUNE MIKU BMW (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) and No.88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido/Takayuki Aoki).
Would it be difficult for domestic GT cars then? Indeed, it is undeniable that the race could be a difficult one considering the characteristics of Fuji. But European cars do have a weak spot and that is the gas mileage. European cars had to spend longer time at the pit for refueling in the first round; hence, there is possibility that European cars lose some grounds in the mandated two pit-stops. Also, no one can assure that there won't be any meteorological confusion. Given the above, No.31 apr HASEPRO PRIUS GT (Morio Nitta/Koki Saga) with confidence in fuel efficiency as well as No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki) and No.43 ARTA Garaiya (Shinichi Takagi/Kosuke Matsuura), both with experienced and competitive driver combinations, should not be forgotten. In addition, No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) with a FIA-GT3 spec Nissan GT-R is also one to be expected. Although it was unable to finish in upper-position due to unexpected accident at the season opener, the team must be keen to get its first win at Fuji where the grand cheering squad of Nissan traditionally attends.
A number of brand new cars have been introduced to the GT300 class this year already, but another new comer is making debut at Fuji, and it is No.66 triple a Vantage (Hiroki Yoshimoto/Kazuki Hoshino). The team will be fielding an Aston Martin again but they will switch from Vantage GT2, which they competed with at the season opener, to a brand new FIA-GT3 spec Vantage GT3, another must-see European car.