November 15, 2018

Even new trial did not work

Series name: 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT Round 8
Course: 4.801km × 53 laps (254.453km)
Qualifying: November 10 (Saturday) / Cloudy / Attendance: 21,000 (announcement from the organizer)
Race: November 11 (Sunday) / Fine / Attendance: 37,000 (announcement from the organizer)

#16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Hideki Mutoh / Daisuke Nakajima) participated in the GT500 class at Round 8 of the Super GT Series on November 10 and 11 at Twin Ring MOTEGI (Tochigi Prefecture). The accumulated weight handicap was all removed from all the cars following the regulation of the final race.


November 10 (Sat)

Official practice: 9th place in the GT500 class, Hideki Mutoh: 00:1:37.564 / Daisuke Nakajima: 00:1:40.258

Due to the rainfall till this morning, the road surface of the Motegi track was wet, but the official practice started at 8:50AM. It was Hideki Mutoh who took the wheel of #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT first with rain tires. In the middle of the session the team practiced driver change and tire change to prepare for the dry condition since the weather was getting better and better.


The 1 hour and 45 minutes official practice session continued without any serious troubles. Clouds started to disappear and the sunshine broke through the clouds. The road surface suddenly became dry. The team applied the new specs tires for #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT and Daisuke Nakajima took some laps to scrutinize the tires. And in the end of the session, Hideki Mutoh took over Daisuke Nakajima.

In the end it was Hideki Mutoh who recorded the best lap, 00:01:37.564 through a time attack at the final lap in total 23 laps, and he got 9th place among 15 cars. Daisuke Nakajima recorded a time of 00:01:40.258 through the total 9 laps.


Qualifying session: 13th place in the GT500 class (Q1: 13th place, 00:1:37.618 / Q2: DNS)

The qualifying session is held under a 2-stage knockout formula with all 15 cars driving in Q1 and then only the top 8 GT500 class cars can advance to Q2 where the starting grid is determined. The positions in the starting grid for the final race are determined in order of Q2 lap times for the 8 vehicles that can advance to Q2, and in order of the Q1 times for the other cars. Q1 and Q2 must be raced by different drivers, and one set of tires can be used for Q1 and another for Q2.

At Motegi it was cloudy early in the morning, but gradually clouds were disappearing and the sun came out by noon, and the weather became fine in the afternoon, however, it was very windy and both the ambient and road surface temperatures were low.


It was Hideki Mutoh who was in charge of the Q1 session. He waited at the pit even the session started and when 8 minutes and 30 seconds of the 15-minute session were left, he entered the track and warmed up the tires and tried a time attack. He recorded a time of 00:01:37.618 putting him in the 13th place and could not advance to Q2 and his position was determined as it was, 13th.


November 11 (Sun)

Race: 14th place in the GT500 class (53 laps / 01:32:16.776 / Best time: 00:01:40.597)

The sky was clear from the morning on Sunday. Hideki Mutoh was nominated as the first driver. He started from the 13th position. But due to lack of grip of the car he went down to 15th position during the opening lap. And then at the 2nd lap a car going in front of him took a pit stop and Hideki Mutoh moved up to 14th position and kept on taking laps.


Just before the race the team was considering “no tire change strategy.” Hideki Mutoh took laps and reported the car condition to the team over the wireless, and exchanged opinions to find a chance to move up the positions. As the result, the team made a decision to carry out the “no tire change strategy” and Hideki Mutoh tried to go as many laps as possible.


Just before the middle of the race other cars staying ahead in the race started to take a pit stop and at the 19th lap Hideki Mutoh moved to the 10th position, and the 9th at the 20th lap, the 7th at the 21st lap, the 6th at the 22nd lap, the 5th at the 24th lap, and the 3rd position at the 27th lap.

Hideki Mutoh took 29 laps and came back to the pit and Daisuke Nakajima took over him. As planned, Daisuke Nakajima went out of the pit after refueling without tire change. The position of #16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT was down to 13th and Daisuke Nakajima was overtaken by a car behind and moved down to the 14th position and finished the race.


#16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT completed the race and ended up in the 14th place. Mutoh/Nakajima driver team did not receive any points, placing them in the 15th of driver point rankings. TEAM MUGEN received 3 completion of the race points and was ranked in the 14th place with total 31 points and finished the 2018 season.

Comments from driver Hideki Mutoh

I did not do well at all over this weekend. In the beginning of the race I lost my position due to lack of grip of the car and did not feel like going well even in the middle of the race. I discussed with the team and decided not to change the tires. During this season I had several chances to ride the good waves, however, at this race, I could not at all. I believe we need to discuss a lot to make a direction of improvement of the car and tires for the future.


Comments from driver Daisuke Nakajima

We brought in new tires to Motegi, however, we could not deal with them well enough to show good performance. At the race we made a decision not to change the tires to find a possibility (to win the race) but could not make it. First of all the car was slow.


I would like to apologize to our sponsors who cheered us up for this disappointing race. Looking back at the season, I noticed that we could not control the tires during cool seasons and also our performance varied depending on the race. I believe we need more experience to understand (the tires).


Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka

We brought in the car and tires with new trial to stand on the podium. On Saturday we felt that trial but ended up the qualifying as it was due to lack of grip. Since our position was 13th at the race, we tried to avoid selecting the same strategy as that of other teams. Then we decided to take the “no tire change strategy.” In the end after Daisuke Nakajima took over the car, the car did not go fast enough and finished the race with a regrettable result.


We believed that we had done the best to develop the car, however, there still seem to be lots to do. When we look back on this season, we won the pole position at Thai round, and we almost were able to stand on the podium at Sugo round. So regrettable. Considering such a season, we will start for new season right away. We thank all of you very much for your support through this year.