2019.05.26-SUPER GT Round 3 Suzuka Circuit - Race：After a tenacious run, the #61 SUBARU BRZ GT300 takes a 3rd place podium!
Round 3 of the SUPER GT, the “SUZUKA GT 300km RACE” was held on May 26 (Sun) at Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture. In front of a 36,000 strong crowd, the #61 SUBARU BRZ GT300 earned a 3rd place podium in a race that unfolded just like a movie.
The #61 headed into the race aiming for a top finish starting from its 4th place qualifying position. Their strategy was to build up as large a gap as possible with the chasing competition immediately after the race started. This was based on the fact that they would take longer to refuel in the pits than their rivals and, in order to shorten their pit stop as much as possible, they decided to employ a strategy of only replacing two tires. Hideki Yamauchi served as starting driver. Yamauchi overtook one rival in the opening lap and raised them up to 3rd. At this time, only the top three cars were running times of 2 minutes 00 seconds, and the cars behind were marking down 2 minutes 01 seconds. For this reason, by lap 16, Yamauchi was able to build up a gap of more than nine seconds with the machine running in 4th. However, at this point the safety car was dispatched. As a result, the margin that Yamauchi had built up was immediately erased.
He pitted in lap 24 and changed driver to Takuto Iguchi. As planned, they sent the car out of the pits having only replaced two tires, but they still dropped down to 5th. The top running #25 adopted a strategy of not changing any tires, and leaded by 25 seconds by lap 38, and it began to look as if aiming to climb further up would be close to impossible. However, the #88 car, which was running in 4th place, dropped back in lap 41 due to a burst tire. This raised the #61 to 4th. Then, in the final stages, the lap times of the #25, which was running in the lead, began to fall sharply, and it was overtaken by the #96 in lap 42. Gradually losing pace, the #25’s difference with the #5 car in 3rd, and the SUBARU BRZ GT300 in 4th was about 19 seconds at lap 43. The race was predicted to finish at around 48 laps, so it still seemed unlikely they would be able to overtake the #23.
By lap 49, the final lap, they had closed the gap with the #25 in 2nd to 5 seconds, but getting passed still looked doubtful. However, in the final chicane, the #25 failed to brake sufficiently and overran the course. Immediately, the #61 overtook the #5 and was able to pass the checkered flag in 3rd place.
"It was tough, but this team really has good fortune at Suzuka. It was good to stand on the podium. When I took the car from Yamauchi, there was still plenty of front grip so I was able to aim for a top spot. We really made use of the lesson’s we learned here last year."
Hideki Yamauchi “We did well only changing 2 tires as we planned. I was able to run to while preserving the front tires, even when I was battling with the #96 for 2nd place. Last year the front was at its limit and Iguchi struggled a great deal but I think that it worked out this time. Without the SC (safety car), we could have aimed for higher, but that’s racing.”
Team Principal, Shibuya
“You really don't know what will happen in a race. It was really great to stand on the podium. I think that this podium was achieved through the cheers of our supporters. The next race will be in Thailand, where last year we ended in a retirement, so I would like shape up the team even more before we head there. The support from all the fans will be the strength of the team, so even though it's being held at a distant location we’d still appreciate your support.”
The next round will be held on June 29th to 30th at Chang International Circuit in Thailand. The track surface and air temperature there are very high, and it is also a slippery course, but hopefully the team can overcome this and aim for a victory.