Autopolis was nothing special, despite the belief that the nature of the circuit would be well suited to the rear-engined Porsche.
Unlike Fuji – where a wrong tyre call was the root cause of a poor result – at Autopolis we didn’t have any excuses. We just didn’t have the pace.
This was a theme common across both Porsches in the 30-strong GT300 class. We both failed to reach the second phase of qualifying, where only the top 14 cars go through.
My gut feeling was that we had a good race car. We were strong on older tyres, and on long ‘race simulation’ runs during practice. I was banking on this, and another come-from-behind result like Okayama.
I took the start, and we made up four spots early on before getting stuck behind some slow – and wild – traffic. A decisive passing manoeuvre was too risky, such was the erratic style of the rival immediately in front.
This delayed our strategy slightly, but a points finish was still on the cards until (just four laps from the finish) a front tyre gave out and Mineo was forced to make in unscheduled stop.
We finished down in 17th.
With summer fast approaching, we need to tune the car around the rising temperatures, and harder tyre compounds than we have been using in the early rounds.
We have six days of quality testing miles in June to do this, at both Suzuka and Sugo. If it has the same effect as our pre-season programme, then we will be back on the right side of the ledger for Round 4 at Sugo on July 22.