14 April 2017SGT

SUPER GT Round 1 Okayama International Circuit: race results

The SUBARU BRZ suffers an unfortunate retirement halfway Round 1 of SUPER GT ‘OKAYAMA GT 300km RACE’ was held on Sunday 9, April at Okayama International Circuit in Mimasaka City, Okayama, Japan. After starting from 6th on the grid, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 driven by Takuto Iguichi and Hideki Yamauchi was forced to retire due to a problem in the middle stage of the race. However, with the high performance of the car confirmed this time, the team will dedicate all their strength to catching-up in the next races.

Yamauchi sprints from an early stage Despite some drizzle on the previous day, no rain was seen on the race day, though it was overcast. In response to entrants’ requesting a longer warm-up session before the main race, free practice was sometimes seen as wasted time due to sudden changes in weather, the free practice session in the morning was abandoned, and therefore the warm-up session was extended from 8 to 20 minutes. After some final checking of the SUBARU BRZ GT300 in the warm-up, the team put the car in the hands of Yamauchi who sat behind the wheel in 6th on the grid for the race.

Just as the formation lap was about to begin, and in an ambient and surface temperatures of 17 and 19℃ respectively (slightly cooler than the previous day), problems hit the GT500 cars one after another. With the red flag raised, the start had to be delayed and the safety car had to initially lead the field. The number of race laps was accordingly also reduced from 82 to 81 because of this delay. When the safety car stepped back at the end of the 3rd lap, the race finally kicked off and Yamauchi raced aggressively to catch the front-runner and move up to 5th position on the lap 5. After the safety car was brought on with the red flag again and a restart of the race, Yamauchi overtook the car in front to climb to 4th on Lap 17.

The top runners of the GT300 class started to head back to the pit on lap 26 and Yamauchi temporarily took the lead on lap 29. Three laps later the SUBARU BRZ GT300 also had to make a pit stop. Looking back at the first half of the race Yamauchi said, “I was able to improve my position after the start and our pace was good compared with other cars, so I wanted to stay on longer and hand the car over to Iguchi. However, there was some bad vibration in the tires, so I thought it would be better to make a pit stop before any problem happened and I did so after the minimum number of laps. I found both good parts and room for improvement for the next race and so, I think we can go a lot faster”.

Subaru will spring back stronger from disappointment for Round 2 at Fuji With all four wheels replaced, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 driven by Iguchi returned to the track. As he drove lap after lap, he had difficulty warming up the tires due to dropping surface temperatures as the day cooled. Even under such conditions, he posted a time faster than 1’29 on lap 36 only to face a problem with the electrical system right after that. He had to stop the car on the side of the track after the Hyper Corner on lap 37.

After the exit from the race Iguchi said, “I think I was racing in a position where I could go for a top place thanks to the good performance of Yamauchi. There were signs of a problem when Yamauchi was driving but symptoms got worse when I took over and the battery couldn’t be charged. We were able to see the problems that we needed to solve and Yamauchi put in a good performance in the first half of the race, so it was a meaningful race”.

General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi summarized the disappointing result saying, “ We will not know the cause of the problem until we examine the car in detail, but perhaps it is the electrical system. I think we can solve the problem. As we were able to record reasonably good times, we ended up throwing away chances in the race. The balance of the car was not good, so we will try hard to make up for this result in the next race. I would like to ask our fans for their continuous support”.

The next stop for SUPER GT is Round 2 at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka, Japan. The event will take place during Japanese national holidays on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4, May. We would like to ask readers and fans for their enthusiastic support for the SUBARU BRZ GT300 as it will be engaged in a high-speed fight on a long straight of 1.5km.