What breaks out at early autumn Fuji? Series going into the final stage! Don’t miss out the vigorous battle on the super high-speed track as contention gets even hotter!!
Round 6 FUJI: Preview
SUPER GT is coming back to Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture) again for the second time after the second round in May for the Round 6 “FUJI GT 300km RACE.” Contested in a total of eight races this season, there are three races remaining in the AUTOCBACS SUPER GT series. Indeed, it is entering into the final phase. All teams as well as those in the title contention will be focusing more on the result, which should create more tensed ceaseless races till the end. Don't miss out on September 8th (Qualifying) and 9th (Race)!
Keep your eyes also on the knockout qualifying.
Super-lap format was adopted for the qualifying at the Round 2, but this upcoming sixth round at Fuji will feature a Knockout qualifying. Super-lap, where you can enjoy every movement of the car when it goes out for an individual time-attack, offers excitement of its kind, but the tension-filled knockout qualifying, where exchange of best times heats up at the very last minute, also has its allurement. Wait-and-see tactics between drivers or finding the right timing to get a clear lap, there are different highlights compared to the second round even the two events being held on the same circuit.
Difference is also seen in the race distance. Round 2 was raced out in 500km, but its 300km for the sixth round. Being the “usual” distance, there is no doubt that every team will be putting everything that it takes, and there should be less unexpected problems on the car and other uncertainty often seen in a long-distance race.
Fuji is referred as a high-speed track due to its layout. It should offer thrilling and powerful race as there should be more overtaking than other circuits.
How will SC430 stride at favorable Fuji?
SC430 fleet is having an impressive season with three wins out of five races. Home of Toyota/Lexus, Fuji Speedway is known as a high-speed track with one of the longest straightaway in the world and multiple mid- and high-speed corners, and favored by SC430, which is often noted for its speed on a straight. In fact, No.39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka/Hiroaki Ishiura) won the second round, and the fleet is making an attempt for three consecutive wins at Fuji continuing from last year's Round 6.
Current point leader, No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430, also has a good footprint at Fuji, but, with a 94kg of handicap weight, the race may require them to be patient and settle for as higher position as possible. No.6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430, the winner of Round 4, needs to win or at least be on the podium here to gain advantage in the championship contention. A possible dark horse would be No.35 KeePer Kraft SC430 (Yuji Kunimoto/Andrea Caldarelli) that has been showing speed in recent races. Young driver duo is on a good flow as they finished second at the last race, the highest position of the season so far for them. Considering their handicap weight is rather lighter than their rivals, their first ever win is very possible.
Although the cars of other manufacturer need to be taken into account, being the home race, Fuji may unveil the internal rivalry within the fleet in determining who's going to advance in the championship contention among SC430s.
Now or never, will GT-R and HSV-010 GT strike back?
Despite no win until the Round 4, the defending champion No.1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintaralle) brought in a win to the GT-R squad at the Round 5 Suzuka. Moreover, four GT-Rs were in the top 5 at the 1000km race, proving Nissan's excellence in a survival race. Remaining three races, however, will be crucial to the squad as the race distance is in the usual 300 to 250km. Especially, No.23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm) and No.12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) must win at Fuji otherwise they could drop out of the title contention.
With regards to Honda HSV-010 GT squad, No.100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takuya Izawa/Naoki Yamamoto) scored podium finishes consecutively from the season opener and No.18 weider HSV-010 won the Round 3, which put both to the upper part of point standing in the early stage of season, but the squad struggled in the mid-season. Considering that the last two races are held at tracks that HSV-010 GT is favorable of with its cornering ability, Fuji with high-speed track will be a crucial point for Hondas. Among all, RAYBRIG HSV-010 should put their stake for Fuji as it has won last year's Fuji Sprint Cup with Izawa behind the wheel thus a track with good fortune. Nonetheless, the cars have to carry a handicap weight that is a double of acquired points up to Fuji, while it will be halved from the next race (exception may apply). Therefore, some team may consider this Fuji as a race to stay tact and then go for Round 7 Autopolis, where handicap weight is halved, and the final round Motegi, where there will be no handicap weight. Determination and decision of team managers are another interesting element to watch.
Unpredictable GT300 class.
A GT300 team that favors Fuji would be No.0 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) that won last season's Round 6 and this year's Round 2 consecutively. The team must be confident after winning the Fuji by different ways in last year and this year, by utilizing the car's ability in high-speed and by appropriately executing a strategy, respectively. However, the team cannot afford to miss out an upper-place finish here if to accomplish back-to-back GT300 class title since they finished the previous race without a point. Their rival would be Porsches. No.33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Masami Kageyama/Tomonobu Fujii) and No.911 ENDLESS TAISAN 911 (Kyosuke Mineo/Naoki Yokomizo) may well showing their presence in the upper positions by utilizing the speed on straightaway.
No.66 triple a vantage GT3 (Hiroki Yoshimoto/Kazuki Hoshino), the winner of previous race, may become this year's eye of typhoon. They won after starting from the very end of the grid. In addition, things are going in their direction, it seems, considering that they were able to runaway at the top position even having a problem in the last hours of the race. Although the 94kg of handicap weight they have to carry for being the point leader is not an easy thing, they have enough speed to emerge into the top positions.
No.11 GAINER DIXCEL R8 LMS (Tetsuya Tanaka/Katsuyuki Hiranaka) is ranked third in the points after winning the season opener and steadily accumulated points after that. Will they put their stake for this Fuji or the last two races where the handicap weight will be reduced? We need to stay closely to their strategy.
No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki), a leading player of domestic GT, fought the race within the scope of victory at the previous race in Suzuka. Fuji is not an advantageous to the car as the circuit requires more power, but, since the leaders in point ranking have to race with heavy weights, there is surely some room to squeeze in.
Hybrids, No.31 apr HASEPRO PRIUS GT (Morio Nitta/Koki Saga) and No.16 MUGEN CR-Z GT (Hideki Mutoh/Daisuke Nakajima), are gradually showing their potential as the maturity and development have progressed, thus, worthwhile to keep eyes on. Besides above, No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo/Daiki Sasaki) and No.87 JLOC LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Koji Yamanishi/Hideki Yamauchi) would be the names to watch out for.
As you can see, it is an endless task to list up candidates in GT300 class. The outcome of race can change drastically depending on the weather, track condition, advantage/disadvantage of cars, etc. Just look forward to the race is what we can only say.