May 10, 2018

Found some clues for SUZUKA in a harsh race

Series name: 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT SERIES Round 2
Round name: FUJI GT 500KM RACE
Course: 4.563 km × 110 laps (501.930 km)
Qualifying: May 3 (Thursday) / Rainy / Foggy / Sunny / Attendance: 31,300 (announcement from the organizer)
Race: May 4 (Friday) / Sunny / Attendance: 55,000 (announcement from the organizer)

#16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (driver team of Hideki Mutoh, Daisuke Nakajima) participated in the GT500 class at Round 2 of the Super GT Series on May 3 and 4 at Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Prefecture). As the result of the previous race 10th place, #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT was assigned a weight handicap of 2kg, bringing the total vehicle weight to 1,036kg (1,034kg + 2kg).


May 3 (Thu)

Official practice: 12th place in the GT500 class, Hideki Mutoh: 00:1:31.766 / Daisuke Nakajima: 00:1:31.065

Official practice scheduled from at 8:40 AM in May 3rd was postponed and canceled in the end due to strong wind, rain, and fog occurred by low pressure coming through. The canceled official practice was announced to be shortened by 30 mins and held after pit walk at 12:50 PM. By then the weather recovered and the Sun came out at times and most of the road surfaces got dry. It was Hideki Mutoh who went first and took 3 laps and came back to the pit to make use of the short session. Daisuke Nakajima in charge of the time attack then confirmed the setting through the rest of the time. #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT finished the session in 12th place among 15 participants.


Qualifying session: 6th place in the GT500 class (00:1:28.524)

As soon as the session started, Daisuke Nakajima entered the course. He was placed in the last position but after tire change he recorded the best time of 00:01:28.524 at the second time attack just after the checkered flag requesting for the end of the session appeared. It was the best time among all the Hondas, and #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT finished the session in 6th place.


May 4 (Fri)

Race: 14th place in the GT500 class (108 laps 2 laps behind / best time: 00:1:30.958

The weather was very fine from the morning at the race day. It was Hideki Mutoh who took the wheel the first and took 13 laps and recorded a time of 00:01:31.470 at the warm-up session carried out in advance of the race. The race lasting 500km, 110 laps which is longer than usual races started. The ambient temperature was 18℃ and the road surface one was 36℃. Hideki Mutoh was in charge of the starting driver. He kept 6th position for a while.


Around 10th lap Hideki Mutoh almost caught up with #6 going in front but could not make it. And then on the contrary he lost speed and #8 and #100 were coming close to #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT. TEAM chose a strategy in which Hideki Mutoh kept on going as long distance as possible. In spite of the tires were worn out, he did his best to keep the position, however, at the 33rd lap, #100 overtook Mutoh at the first corner.


Hideki Mutoh made a pit stop. Daisuke Nakajima took over Mutoh and came to the course after tire change and refueling. When all the cars finished driver change, Daisuke Nakajima was in 9th position. Due to tire debris, at the 44th lap he lost one position down to 10th position.


Daisuke Nakajima then speeded up and #8 in 8th position, #100 in 9th, #17 in 11th, and #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT in 10th, all Hondas were lined up for a while. Daisuke Nakajima picked up the pace and tried to catch up #100 and then overtook the car in the end and came back to 9th position. But at 69th lap a left rear tire got punctured and Daisuke Nakajima slowed down and came back to the pit, however, at this point he took only 36 laps, in the regulation one driver has to take 37 laps at least. He had no choice but to go back to the course after tire change.


Daisuke Nakajima lost his position down to 11th, but with new tires he recovered the pace and came back to 10th position at the 73th lap. At 74th lap he moved up to 9th position. After finishing 85 laps he came back to the pit. Hideki Mutoh took over the steering then. After tire change and refueling he came back to the course in 12th position. At 90th lap Hideki Mutoh took an unexpected pit stop for tire change. In the end he lost his positions down to 14th and finished the race 2 laps behind the top.


As a result, the team of Mutoh/Nakajima driver team did not receive any points, placing them 14th in the season point rankings. TEAM MUGEN received 1 point for completing the race and was ranked 7th in the team point rankings and was ready for upcoming Round 3 at Suzuka.

Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka

ODue to bad weather, too much fog, all the participants faced a difficulty to carry out the official practice. But car and tires we set up in advance matched such a driving condition, we could have strong confidence at the qualifying. At the race we were so concerned about tires, however, in reality the other part was damaged and we lost positions. So disappointing. But we still have confidence in direction of performance improvement. We will take advantage of all the strong points of our car and conduct development of endurance improvement. Our two drivers do their best to the utmost limit. We have no choice but to keep going


Comments from driver Hideki Mutoh

Due to poor road condition, the pace of #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT was so unstable that I suffered from this race a lot. At the qualifying I believe our performance was not bad, however, at the race we faced so huge difficulty. At the first stint of the race though I had a difficulty of dealing with tires, but tried to go as long distance as possible. What I regretted at the race is I bothered cars behind, but that was due to our struggle to win the race.


Comments from driver Daisuke Nakajima

The qualifying was unusual one, however, driving performance was not bad. Compared with driving performance in previous year, I have confidence that the performance was much improved that we could compete with other cars. Since our performance at the race was good for a while, I felt so regrettable with the tire troubles. Though I faced a difficulty, I could overtake #100. At my stint after the tire change, the weather got cooler and #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT went faster by almost 1 second, and which gave me a confidence that we can compete with other faster cars under the condition that we could adopt our car to the environment of the race.