SUPER GT Round 4 Sportsland SUGO: race results
A frustrating 9th position after being affected by the timing of the Safety Car
Round 4 of SUPER GT ‘SUGO GT 300km RACE’ was held on Sunday 23, July. Starting from 4th on the grid after the qualifier, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 driven by Takuto Iguichi and Hideki Yamauchi finished the race in 9th.
Forced to drop positions due to two consecutive interventions from the Safety Car
The weather changed completely overnight and the race day began under thick clouds. However, the morning rain stopped before the start of the race, leaving the track surfaces on the way to drying up. As a result, the team was forced to make a difficult decision with tires but opted for rain tires as it started raining again just before the start of the race. Yamauchi who sat behind the wheel first, allowed competitors to go ahead as the race got under way. However, he later passed the cars in front, taking advantage of his high-cornering speed to move up to 3rd by Lap 30.
In the middle stage, the Safety Car (SC) came in for a second time in this race, and many other teams made a pit stop when the SC went back to its pit. However, the SUBARU team postponed it because they had originally planned to let Yamauchi drive a long stint. He beat his own lap record as he tried to run as fast as possible when he could before going back to his pit, to extend the gap over the rivals who had opted for a pit stop. However as the SC came on again and pits were closed, those which had lagged behind after a pit stop closed the gap on the SUBARU BRZ GT300 quickly. After the exit of the SC, the SUBARU came back to the pit and as a result, dropped from 3rd to 10th.
Iguchi went back on the track in the SUBARU BRZ GT300 on slick tires and fell down to 11th at one point, struggling with tires, which were not warming. However, he later recorded a series of best lap times, which was not quite enough to overtake a number of front-runners though. By the end of the race he moved one position up to 10th and with one-place promotion given after that, the team achieved 9th place in this race.
The potential of the car was confirmed
General Team Manager Hideharu Tatsumi looked back at the performance of the SUBARU BRZ GT300 and commented, “In a way, we cannot do anything about the timing of the SC, but our car can be faster. It does not mean that our times are bad, but we allow our rivals to set their own pace and control the race because we lack speed on a straight. We were not wrong with our tactics to choose wet tires and to let Yamauchi take a long stint. Our lap times on slick tires are also not bad, so if we can make our car fast enough on a straight to keep others at bay, the situation will be very different”.
Yamauchi said, “I think we saw the SC too many times and I was affected by that a little in the beginning of my stint. However, in the midst of a battle, I was able to run a good race. Dunlop also provided good tires for us. If there had not been any intervention by the SC twice, we would have been able to narrow our gap on the lead. As we gained some points, I think we achieved our minimum goal. I believe that we will be able to go for a podium place or win if we do not give up and continue fighting. I think this is important”.
Iguchi, who drove in the second half of the race, said, “Yamauchi kept fighting for many laps in a good position, so if the timing of the SC had been good, I would have been able to go back to the race in a very good position. It is disappointing that our tactic was ruined, but it is promising for the next races that we were able to at least gain some points while there was a possibility that we were not able to get any in the rough race. I would like to analyze our strengths and weaknesses in this race thoroughly with the team to make good use of this result and get back on track at Fuji in 2 weeks time and also at Suzuka”, reaffirming his commitment to the upcoming races.
The next stop for SUPER GT is Round 5 at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka, Japan on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6, August. Even with a short 2-week interval, the data acquired through this race will be reflected into the SUBARU BRZ GT300 and it will be even faster in the next race. We would like to ask readers and fans for their support for the whole team.