2019 SUPER GT Round 1 Okayama International Circuit - Race：SUBARU BRZ GT300 takes 4th place in turbulent race
The opening round of the 2019 SUPER GT series, the “OKAYAMA GT 300km RACE” was held on Sunday, April 14th at Okayama International Circuit, Misaku, Okayama Prefecture.
Although they could only secure a 9th place start in the previous day’s qualifying, following the QF sessions, driver Hideki Yamauchi pointed out that the acceleration was sluggish, and the team carried out a full inspection of the car. The crew checked for defects in all possibly effected parts, including the fuel system, electrical system, control system, and hardware, then thoroughly reviewed the control software.
Race day was met with rainy weather. During free practice held before the race, both Yamauchi and Iguchi drove the car and were able to record an overall third fastest time. The 300km / 82 lap race started under heavy rain at 2:30pm, but instead of the usual rolling start, it was decided that the race would begin behind the lead of the safety car.
However, due to the heavy rain, a car immediately went off course following the start of the race and several cars made contact resulting in a redeployment of the safety car. From then on, the weather did not improve, and with several accidents involving a number of vehicles, there were another two red flag interruptions.
Despite the chaotic circumstances, Yamauchi drove calmly and steadily, raising them up from their 9th place qualification to 6th, then showed a powerful run to keep pressure on the #56 and #11 that were competing for 4th place. Then, in lap 22, Yamauchi passed both the #56 and #11 to move up to 4th.
After that, another machine crashed in lap 25 causing yet another dispatch of the safety car. With the weather showing no signs of improvement, a red flag cessation was called at lap 31 and this is where the race ultimately ended. With the final positions fixed into those that each car was running when the red flag was raised, the SUBARU BRZ GT300 ended the race in 4th place.
“I think that it was a good result for the opening round since we started from a 9th place qualification. The conditions were bad, but I feel that I was able to carry out an exhilarating race. The setup of the machine was good, and I was able to put pressure on the #11 car, which is a positive takeaway.”
“I didn’t get a chance to drive today, so I can only comment on Yamauchi’s run. I think his jump from 6th to 4th and then his ability to apply continuous pressure from that position was great. His pace after the restart was also good so I thank Yamauchi for his hard work, and I will do my best in the next race.”
Team Principal, Shibuya
“We were able to test twice at Okayama in the off-season, and it was good that the data from that time helped with our set up. The conditions were exceedingly wet, so we thought we would aim to pull in front early and hold back our rivals after that. To that end, our strategy was to go with a softer set up and raise the mechanical grip. Considering the light weight of the car, along with the fact that heavy rain is advantageous to the heavier GT-3s, pulling out in front early is an important strategy. Yamauchi put in a really good run, so everything went according to plan, and I think that his efforts to put pressure on the cars in front even in these conditions was superb. We haven’t been able to get points at Okayama for the last 5 years so I think this was a pretty good start for the opening round.”
The next race will be a 500km long-distance event held over May 3rd (Fri) to 4th (Sat) at Fuji Speedway, Oyama-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture. Although Fuji Speedway has been a difficult circuit for the team in the past, their lap times suggest the potential to aim for a podium. The support from all the fans is a great boost to the team so the SUBARU crew hopes for your continued support.