November 13, 2013
The 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT special event Fuji Sprint Cup, to determine the JAF Grand Prix title will be held at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture on November 23 and 24.
The predecessor to SUPER GT, the All-Japan GT Championship (JGTC), held rounds on Fuji Speedway's old layout starting in 1994, site of the series' first-ever race. In other words, Fuji Speedway is the birthplace of the All-Japan GT Championship and SUPER GT - and continues to be its Mecca even now. In SUPER GT, where each circuit generally hosts only a single race per season, the fact that Fuji Speedway hosts two rounds every year, one in the spring and another in the autumn, makes this clear. Since 2010, the big event of the post-season, the Fuji Sprint Cup has been held there as well.
The Fuji Sprint Cup is a joint event between SUPER GT and Japan's top formula series, SUPER FORMULA, and as the name suggests, is comprised of a series of sprint (short-distance) races. SUPER GT rounds are typically between 250- and 1,000kms, with the Fuji Sprint Cup races being the only 100-km sprints. What's more, the regular rounds are endurance races in which drivers take shifts to complete the race, but in this event, the 100-km sprints must be completed without any driver changes, with each of the two drivers responsible for one race, on either the Saturday (23rd) or the Sunday (24th).
With races that are so much shorter than the regular rounds, the lack of driver changes, and the use of a standing start, (which will quickly separate the men from the boys) the start promises to have a greater than normal influence on the final results, and is worth watching. As it is not a regular series' event, there is no ‘weight handi’ (success ballast) on any of the cars, much like in the season-opening and final rounds, and each car will go into the races on equal footing, promising a fierce battle from official qualifying onward.
For the current generation of GT500 machines, conforming to the 2009 vehicle regulations, this will truly be their last race. In order to give a proper send-off to the cars that have battled over recent seasons and cap 2013 with a final crowning glory, the teams in the Nissan camp, particularly NISMO, will settle for nothing less than victory. Of course, the same can be said of their rivals. The Lexus camp, for whom Fuji is their home circuit, and Honda, who have fought so fiercely this season, both rival makes are sure to be honing their claws as they envisage a grand finale.
This is also an important event for the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3, the only domestically produced FIA GT3 machine competing in the GT300 class. As part of the NISMO Global Driver Exchange Program, the team of Alex Buncombe and Lucas Ordonez will be competing in the #35 NISMO ATHLETE GT-R GT3. The performance of the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R, which displayed excellent speed but has suffered from a lack of results this season through a series of misfortunes, also bears watching.