Rd.6 Fuji Speedway 8 - 9 September
Car #1, champions of last year's series, took their first victory of the year at the Suzuka 1,000kms, the fifth event of the season. It was the first win in 2012 for a NISSAN GT-R, and the bonus points earned in the season's longest race helped rocket the driver pairing into second place in the standings. The GT-R's speed has finally produced results, much to my relief.
Prior to Suzuka, SUPER GT held a joint test at Fuji Speedway on August 9 and 10. New aerodynamic modifications saw the GT-Rs perform very well, with the cars' tyre performance also contributing to the strong showing. GT-Rs recorded the top time in three of the test's four sessions, and all four cars placed in the top half of the rankings.
In the races held during the first half of this season, the GT-Rs were extremely unlucky. The opening round at Okayama and the second race at Fuji Speedway were both events they could have won. The third round in Sepang was a total defeat, but they could have won at SUGO as well. The teams were gloomy about having missed out on a victory throughout those four races, but the fantastic results at Suzuka, with the victory and all four cars finishing in the top five, make us feel like we have good momentum heading into the second half of the season, and it has given us confidence that will be able to compete in the three remaining races.
The next race, taking place at Fuji Speedway, means it will be at Lexus' home track, but we at NISSAN also want to produce good results. We expect that the #24 machine, which performed well in the Fuji test, and the #12 car, which has a relatively small amound of success ballast onboard, will be genuine contenders for first place. The #23 entry also has its sights on first place, of course, but first of all, they have to aim to make it to the victory stand. The #1 car has more success ballast onboard this time since they won the last race, however they need to earn as much point as they can in this upcoming round.
In the following race at Autopolis, the handicap weights will be reduced by half, and in the final round at Motegi there will be no handicap weights, so it is not impossible for them to win both of those races. The GT-R is a car with a lot of speed, so I feel they have a considerable chance to win the next three races starting with Fuji.
Moving on to the #3 machine contesting the GT300 class: after the car took its first victory at SUGO, it then scored second place at Suzuka. However, star driver Yuhi Sekiguchi will be unable to compete at Fuji because of accumulated moral hazards. Although he was supposed to have taken sufficient caution so far, in retrospect, it seems that we were also at fault for not giving proper guidance. He possesses incredible talent as a driver, so this should be a good learning experience for him, and will hopefully encourage him to become more self-aware. Daiki Sasaki has been appointed to take Sekiguchi's place. He currently leads the driver's rankings in the N-Class of the All-Japan F3 Championship with three consecutive victories, and set pretty good times at the recent Fuji joint test. I encouraged him by saying, “Drive like you want to steal his seat,” and I have high hopes for his efforts.