As with the first day of tests, there was good weather again at Okayama International Circuit. And again, on this day, all of the participating cars used the carbon-neutral fuel (CNF). Furthermore, due to the stricter limits this season on the number of tires that can be used in each race, the tire choices were expected to be more severe, which prompted the teams and drivers to be especially aware of the tire choices and confirmation, while also working on their respective machine set-up in repeated runs in preparation for the opening round to be run here at Okayama (Apr. 15, 16).
◎Test Session 3 (Morning of Day 2） 09:00 to 11:00
Weather: Clear / Track: Dry Air temperature: 13℃ to 20℃ / Track temp.: 17℃ to 26℃
◎Test Session 4 (Afternoon of Day 2） 14:00 to 16:00
Weather: Clear / Track: Dry Air temperature: 18℃ to 20℃ / Track temp.: 26℃ to 28℃
■In the morning session, Sakaguchi in the WedsSport ADVAN and Miyata in the au TOM’S GR Supra finish 1-2
In the morning’s Session 3, the GT500 machines were soon breaking the 1’20 barrier to record times in the 1’19 range. The No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Nobuharu Matsushita) ran a time of 1’19.234 and was joined near the top of the time monitor by the No. 24 Realize corporation ADVAN Z (Daiki Sasaki/Kohei Hirate), the No. 36 au TOM'S GR Supra (Sho Tsuboi/Ritomo Miyata), the No. 64 Modulo NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa) and the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima). After that, car No. 24 broke the 1’19 barrier with a 1’18.522 lap to move up to the top spot.
However, it was Sakaguchi in the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Yuij Kunimoto/Sena Sakaguchi) also running on Yokohama tires, that eventually recorded the fastest time of 1’18.074. This reconfirmed the speed of this car, which had won the most pole positions last season, with four. What’s more, the No. 16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT (Nirei Fukuzumi/Hiroki Otsu) recorded a time of 1’18.224, but that was beaten by No. 36 au TOM'S GR Supra (Sho Tsuboi/Ritomo Miyata) with a 1’18.174 lap that moved it into 2nd position. Eventually, the morning session ended in a 1-2 finish for two GR Supra GT500 cars, No. 19 and No. 36. But filling out the top four in 3rd and 4th positions respectively were the No. 24 Z GT500 machine and the No. 16 NSX-GT of the rival manufacturers, giving a sense that this season will again be one of close competition in the races.
■The afternoon sees the Niterra MOTUL Z fastest, but followed closely by the No. 100 NSX-GT and the No. 38 GR Supra
After the end of the morning’s Session 3, an FCY (Full Course Yellow) test and SC (Safety Car) practice were conducted. Also, as with the previous day, a PIT Viewing time helped bring the fans and the drivers closer together.
In the afternoon’s Session 4, most of the GT500 class teams ran long runs to check their tires and practice tire changes in anticipation of race conditions. As a result, the teams didn’t improve on their lap times from the morning session.
In the end, the fastest time in the afternoon session was a 1’19.079 lap by Takaboshi in the No. 3 Niterra MOTUL Z (Katsumasa Chiyo/Mitsunori Takaboshi). Recording the 2nd and 3rd fastest time respectively were the No. 100 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) and the No. 38 ZENT GR Supra (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura) also in the 1’19 sec. range. Claiming 4th position in the 1’20 range was the No. 24 Z machine, while the times of the 11 following cars down to the No. 19 GR Supra in 14th position were only separated by a mere 0.7 sec.
■Nitta in the local Okayama team’s K-tunes RC F GT3 is fastest in GT300 class
In the GT300 class morning session, the No. 88 JLOC Lamborghini GT3 (Takashi Kogure/Yuya Motojima) continued to show its good condition by taking the top position in the early going. But it was Nitta in the No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 (Morio Nitta/Shinichi Takagi) that eventually bettered No. 88’s time with a lap of 1’25.677 and ended up as fastest in the session.
Since the GT300 class cars were also using the carbon-neutral fuel (CNF), the teams busied themselves testing their fuel consumption rates and efficiency. Takahiro Sasaki of Toyota Racing Development (TRD), who has been working on the development of the TOYOTA GT3 machine commented, “We have been working with the CNF sent to us by GTA to develop a program that we can give our users (teams) to deal with the new fuel.” And Hirokatsu Tanaka of M-TEC Co., Ltd., who has been developing the engine for the Honda NSX GT3, commented, “The young engineers have been working hard on the development.” And Motohiro Matsumura, the Nissan Teams Executive Director who works at Nissan Motorsports & Customizing Co., Ltd., commented that, “This is the first time that we have tested the GT3 (using the CNF), so I can’t say that we are at a point where we have adapted to it sufficiently.”
Among the overseas customer teams, Tadashi Mizota, an engineer working on the Mercedes AMG GT3 for the No. 65 LEON PYRAMID AMG (Naoya Gamou/Takuro Shinohara) team said, “Until now we have not had anything like a special program to work with, and we have only been told about a few of the items to be aware of.” As for the team’s driver, Gamou, he said, “I don’t get the impression that there has been any major effect caused in the machine (from the new fuel).” Also, manager Isao Noritake of the JLOC team that enters the two Lamborghini GT3 cars No. 87 and No. 88, said, “Currently, Lamborghini they are “supposedly” working on the development of a program (for dealing with the CNF).”
In the afternoon, the top three teams in the GT300 class’s morning session, No. 96, No. 88 and the No. 20 SHADE RACING GR86 GT (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Eijiro Shimizu) remained among the top three in the afternoon session, although in a different order. The top time went to Nitta in car No. 96 with a 1’26.585, thus proving the team fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions.
Sena Sakaguchi（No.19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra）
When you say that we got the top time, it was actually in only one of the four sessions that we were able to get the top time, so we can’t be complete happy with that. Rather, we learned that there is still more to be done, and that is the more important fact to deal with, I believe. I wasn’t thinking about the times at all and was more aware of the fact that the feeling of the cars wasn’t all that good. Last year, we were able to show our speed in the qualifying, but in the races, we often slowed down. So, during the off-season we have been working to deal with that issue. In the maker tests, we found some good material to work with, but this time in Okayama the (results) were a bit disappointing. So, I want to see us work on solving the problems in the month remaining before the opening round so that we can race well.
Morio Nitta（No.96 K-tunes RC F GT3）
Today, we were able to get the top time in both of the sessions, but just getting the top time is not enough. There are certainly more than a few parts of our performance that I am not satisfied with. But knowing that there are more than a few things that were not satisfactory also means that there is more room for improvement. So, I have decided to take a positive attitude about that. In any event, we can say for a fact that these have been two days of very meaningful tests.