Fuji unearthed our potential, as well as our flaws. For that reason, it was a vitally important event for myself and Gulf Racing Japan, as we mount a championship challenge in SUPER GT this year.
We knew we had a quick car, and second place in qualifying confirmed that. I was happy with the front row start, but felt there was even more in it. My second SUPER GT qualifying wasn’t perfect, as I continue to learn the limits of the new tyre. Even so, we missed out on pole by just 1/10th of a second.
The stage was set for a solid bank of points with 500km of racing ahead, in front of 90,000 amazing Japanese fans who had flocked to Fuji for the mid-week race, as part of ‘Golden Week’ – a national peace holiday.
The race didn’t go as planned. We made the wrong tyre choice, compounded by a much hotter race day that we had anticipated. Mineo and I just couldn’t keep up with the pack, as our tyres suffered and barely held on during each stint.
What’s important is the championship. I drove with this in mind. Over my 45 lap stint, it was agonising seeing the field drive away, but we did our best to salvage whatever we could and picked up the last points-paying position in 10th at the finish.
A rough day for the other championship contenders means we’ve only slipped back 2 points from the overall lead, and with Autopolis up next – a track the Porsche will love – I remain 110% confident in myself, the team and our Gulf race car.
We are working to improve our pit stops, isolate the ideal tyre bank for the next round and get back to the pointy end of that field.
Thanks for your support!