November 17, 2017
MOTEGI GT GRAND FINAL
Disappointment for the next season
Series name: 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT SERIES ROUND 8
Round name: MOTEGI GT GRAND FINAL
Course: 4.801km × 53 laps (254.453km)
Qualifying: November 11 (Sat) / Fine / Attendance 19,500 (Announcement from the organizer)
Race: November 12 (Sun) / Fine / Attendance 36,000 (Announcement from the organizer)
#16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (driver team of Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima) participated in the GT500 class at Round 8 of the Super GT Series on November 11 and 12 at Twin Ring MOTEGI (Tochigi Prefecture). The regulation allows the participants to remove all the accumulated weight handicaps at this race.
November 11 (Sat)
Official practice: 14th place in the GT500 class, Hideki Mutoh: 1:38.267 / Daisuke Nakajima: 1:40.654
The official practice session started under cloudy skies of Twin Ring Motegi in a low temperature at 8:45AM. It was Hideki Mutoh that took the wheel of #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT first. But he could not pick up the pace.
The official practice lasting an hour and 45 minutes was carried out without any critical accidents. #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT came back to the pit and was adjusted a bit and Daisuke Nakajima took over the wheel.
In the end Hideki Mutoh recorded the best time of 1:38.267 at the last lap while he was doing the time attack. His position was 11th out of 15 vehicles. On the other hand Daisuke Nakajima drove 16 laps and recorded a time of 1:40.654.
Qualifying session: 13th place in the GT500 class (Q1: 12th place, 1:38.706 / Q2: DNS
The qualifying sessions, a 2-stage knockout formula with all 15 racing vehicles driving in Q1 and then the only the top 8 GT500 class vehicles advancing to Q2 where the starting grid was determined was held. The positions in the starting grid for the race were determined in order of the Q2 times for the 8 vehicles that advanced to Q2, and in order of the Q1 times for the other vehicles. Q1 and Q2 must be raced by different drivers, and one set of tires could be used for Q1 and another set for Q2.
Though the sky was cloudy in the morning, gradually the clouds were disappearing and in the afternoon the weather has completely recovered, but still the wind was strong and road surface temperature remained cold. It was Hideki Mutoh who was behind the wheel in the Q1 session. Hideki Mutoh stayed in the pit for a while and when 8 minutes and 30 seconds had passed, he started to warm up the tires and went for a time attack. But the lap time was 1:38.706 and he was in 12th position, and could not advance to the Q2 session. Starting grid of TEAM MUGEN was determined as13th position.
November 12 (Sun)
Race: 13h place in the class (65 laps 1 lap behind / best time: 1:26.952)
The race day began with bright and clear morning. The course was in the dry condition. By the time when each vehicle finished the warm-up session and lined up at the starting grid, the ambient temperature went up to 30℃.and the road surface temperature was 45℃, but the time of ceremonies went by and when in 30 minutes left before the race started, it started to rain suddenly and the course got wet in a moment.
Hideki Mutoh discussed over the wireless radio to the pit and made a decision to come back to the pit earlier. In fact Hideki Mutoh came back to the pit at 19th lap and Daisuke Nakajima took over the wheel.
Daisuke Nakajima selected other type of tires based on suggestions of Hideki Mutoh and went out for the course. In the beginning his pace was good and at the 5th lap Daisuke Nakajima recorded his best time 1:40.669, however, soon afterwards grip performance started to get bad and Daisuke Nakajima had no choice but to concentrate on controlling the vehicle.
In the end #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT finished the race with 11th place 1 lap behind and the team of Mutoh/Nakajima driver team received no points, placing them the same 18th in the season point rankings. TEAM MUGEN received 2 points for completing the race, however, ended the 2017 season with 15th place in the team point rankings.
Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka
We improved the tiers and prepare for the vehicle’s setting based on such tires to get ready for the race. On Saturday we had a good impression on the vehicle, but found out that its performance allover was not really. Front tires picked up all the dirt and debris on the course, and what we could do at the race site was so limited that we had no choice but to accept the difficult race and finish this season. This season was quite humiliating to us but I am certain that our team members did their best. We have just started to develop and set-up the vehicle and also started development of the tires based on the experience accumulated through all the 8 races in this season with strong intention of how we could win the race in the next season. No day-offs for us or for the engineers and mechanics. We will do our best to win the race in next year. We beg your continued support.
Comments from driver Hideki Mutoh
At the race I should have driven the vehicle longer but the vehicle slowed down and then I believed that we needed to change the tires the soonest possible and came back to the pit, however, we could not recognize a big difference, so then I wondered if I should have stayed longer. But with such a slow pace, I had no choice but to come back to the pit. As a preparation for the weekend we tried totally different approaches on the vehicle but as a result we did not see any big difference. I myself felt a bit difference but which did not do any impacts on the result. The issue was that we changed the specs of the vehicle so dramatically that we could not do anything at the pit. We tried whatever we could do but could not find the solution in the end at the weekend. The weekend ended with frustration in which we could not do our very best. I hope that our trials would lead to some results sometime somehow, but hopefully wanted to feel some kind of results at the race.
Comments from driver Daisuke Nakajima
I took over the wheel earlier than scheduled and chose the different tiers from those of Hideki Mutoh. In the first 5 laps the pace was not bad, however, grip performance of the front tires was getting bad and so was that of the rears and by the first one third of my stint I could not expect any grip performance at all. I had to struggle to maneuver the vehicle. Naturally I could not record better time. Honestly the race was quite harsh to me. I did my best to struggle against such a situation, but could not do anything to change the result. I could not even be disappointed at the race.