The Super GT Series returns to the foothills of Mount Fuji this weekend for the second race at Fuji International Speedway. Will the Lexus LC500 fleet continue its winning streak? Can the #38 Zent Cerumo car repeat its win from the other Fuji race earlier this season? Catch all the action this Sunday, being streamed live and free on the Motorsport.tv website.
|Fuji International Speedway – Oyama, Japan|
|Circuit Length||4.563 km / 2.835 mi||Opened||1965|
|First Super GT Event||1994||Direction||Clockwise|
In the early 60’s, plans were underway for a Japanese NASCAR style series, and the Japan NASCAR Corporation – now the Fuji Speedway Corporation – was formed and tasked with creating an oval circuit at the foothills of Mount Fuji.
After the funding fell through in the mid 1960s, the Mitsubishi Estate Co. invested in the circuit and took over the reins of management. Mitsubishi Estate then converted the track to a road circuit. Remnants of the original circuit remain, with the long main straight and an unused bank lurking beyond Turn 1.
The course offers several long sweeping sections and the longest straight in the Super GT season clocking in at a whopping 1.5 kilometres, a constant reminder of the track’s origins as a NASCAR circuit.
|2019 AUTOBACS Super GT Fuji GT 500 Miles – Provisional Schedule|
|Event Dates||03-04 August 2019||Free Practice Session 1
|Qualifying Session 1||Sat 14:50-15:25||Qualifying Session 2||Sat 15:35-16:03|
|Warm-up Session||Sun 10:40-11:05||Race (177 laps)
All session times quoted in Japan Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 9:00)
Rewind to 2018
Being a regional series, Super GT needs to return to a circuit or two in order to fill out a season. However, that means that teams have already raced there this year, always making the second Fuji race an exciting one.
Either way, the earlier Fuji race in April provided wet weather for the Super GT drivers to work their way through.
The race was called to a stop several times due to the weather, but the #38 Zent Cerumo LC500 continued to push on, despite efforts from Ronnie Quintarelli in his #23 Motul Autech GT-R and the reining champion #1 Raybrig NSX-GT.
Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura bought home their first win in 2 years in the #38 Zent Cerumo LC500, Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli ended second in their #23 Motul Autech GT-R, while 2018 champions Naoki Yamamoto and Jenson Button completed the podium in their #1 Raybrig NSX-GT.
The Fuji Form Guide
Hopefully this weekend the weather can hold out for the drivers and they can get a clean race in.
The Lexus LC500 team will be hoping to continue their winning streak, continuing Toyota’s dominance this season, however the increasing ballasts applied to winning cars will be a concern as they try to push on.
The Honda teams will be hoping to recover after the horrific race at Buriram last round. Defending champions Yamamoto and Button will have quite the challenge ahead of themselves if they wish to hold the title.
The Nissan teams seem to have dropped off the radar slightly, given the dominance of the Lexus teams. The #23 car, driven by Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda are currently the highest placing Nissan team in fourth, however an 11th place finish in the last round, they also have a tough road ahead of them to squeeze into a podium finish of this year’s championship.
As is with most Japanese racing at the moment, Nick Cassidy is a name that can not avoided, after a second-place finish in both the previous rounds of Super GT and Super Formula, Cassidy will be itching for a win in either one of the championships.
In other Super GT news, a proposed calendar has been announced for the 2020 season, with the major feature being a second international race at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. The schedule for 2020 considers Japan’s upcoming Olympics. The usual round five Fuji race has been moved due to the Games using Fuji’s other sporting facilities.
Toyota’s new Supra has entered production after years of hype surrounding the car, and the first cars have been delivered to customers. Naturally, this brings into question Toyota’s motorsport activities. A 2JZ powered A90 Supra has sprouted in Japan’s professional drifting league, D1GP. However, we are yet to see a Toyota backed A90 touring car team. Japanese motorsports website AUTOSPORT WEB has reported rumours that Super Formula team KCMG could be racing in a Supra GT500 car as soon as the 2020 season. It is also rumoured that if KCMG were to enter into Super GT, that one of the current Toyota/ Lexus teams would be dropped. Does this spell the end of the LC500 in Super GT? Renderings of a A90 Supra GT500 car have been floating around on the web for some time now, and that already makes me excited for the 2020 season.
Image via Super GT