Event: Super GT Round 2 – Throwdown At Fuji Speedway v.1

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Nothing can short change the excitement of a good road race.  Rapidly changing weather conditions, split second decisions, class differences, mental fatigue, and constant overtaking all combine to create an environment that only motor sport can provide.  Super GT, Japan’s premier racing series, brings this to the table round after round.  Mixing GT300 and GT500 contenders make for a packed grid and the opportunity to see some great driving.  This particular race held many challenges for the teams to overcome; challenges that would leave the unprepared teams either on the back of the grid or, worse yet, off the track and retired.  It’s my pleasure to bring you coverage from Round 2 of Super GT held at Fuji Speedway in the Shizuoka prefecture.  Click past the break for a look at the action.

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The Epson HSV dives in for a quick pit-stop on the opening laps.  The slight rain that broke out during the beginning of the laps forced the teams to make some split tire decisions.  The one team that ended up staying on dries was the ARTA team, and that ended in disaster.

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A close up and blurry shot of the WedsSport SC430.  Overall the Toyota’s did a great job at Fuji – taking 1st and 3rd respectively.

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A shot of the winning GT500 Toyota/Lexus cruising down the massive straight of Fuji.  This shot is a little out of order as this was on the reconnaissance lap. This year the Toyota’s started running a unique style of rear wing.  Dubbed the ‘Swan’ style wing, the actual spoiler is mounted to the mounts from the top side.  You’ll get to see a better shot of the actual wing later in the post.

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The EVA Racing team GT300 car – a very strange design to say the least.  Leave it to Japan to have a racing team themed after a popular anime that’s based on robots; and to have a car that basically looks like one.  All that aside, the car is a performer – managing to grab a podium position in the GT300 class with a solid 2nd place finish.

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By far the most popular GT300 car on the grid is the Good Smile Racing, Studie AG built BMW.  I mentioned this before in my close up of the car last year, but a large percentage of the team is funded by it’s fans through different sponsorship package; the packages aren’t cheap either – hence the loyalty.  It also helps that their mascot and theme is the ever-loved Hatsune Miku – vocaloid extraordinaire.  Oh yeah, and while I’m at it I may as well mention the team’s fan-boy driver is none other than NOB – who piloted it to the number 1 position for the GT300 class.

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Anyway, once the green flag dropped it didn’t take long for the overtaking to begin.  Having two classes on the same track always makes for great racing action.  Here you see two GT300 contenders battling it out on the opening laps.  Both of these cars ended up dropping out in the first half; one due to mechanical issues and one due to hitting the pit wall at 120mph – more on that later.  It was too bad too, I kind of liked the D-Station R35.  The ’tilt-shift’ effect in this picture was unintentional, but it ended up looking like a miniature.

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GT500 SC430, HSV, and GTR headed into 100R at full throttle.  Not too often you get to see cars of this caliber fight it out on the race track.  It was awesome to hear the cars go wide open right after 80R (Coca-Cola Corner).

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Which, coincidentally, ended up being a speed trap as many cars went off at this point.  I know some of it had to do with the fresh rain that fell in random intervals throughout the day.  In fact, they had delayed the start of the race by a few laps to see if it was going to start raining harder or not.  It ended up dying down after about three pace car led laps, and promptly began.  Although it began by many of the teams (all but the one previously mentioned) dipping into the pits to change on to intermediate tires to compensate for the light rain that was still falling.

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The HSV is also running a new wing – this time changing the mounting points to the rear of the chassis instead of the trunk area.  Due to the way the mounting points are set-up, the uprights have to  be slanted.  I’m not sure if it affects anything aerodynamically, but it sure looks mean as hell.  It must be working because the Epson HSV nailed the number one spot in qualifying, and the Raybrig HSV landed a podium finish for the race.

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The Eneos SC430 ended up taking 10th place in the GT500 class.  Here you can see it ripping down the straight.  I have a similar shot of this car from qualifying in the rain – it looks identical except for a 15 foot high rooster tail of water shooting out the back.

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The drivers of Super GT are no strangers to up close, at limit racing action.  You can see from the busted side mirror of this Toyota that they’re not afraid of swapping a little paint to get ahead.  Reminds me a little of the BTCC, except less blatantly destructive.

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It’s wild to see so much camera equipment in one place.  I mean, I’ve shot events in America before, but not that many people walk around with expensive glass – especially if you’re not media.  It seems as if every enthusiast had a $15,000 dollar lens attached to their cameras here; I’m not even exaggerating.  It blows my mind too because it’s difficult to find coverage of events like this, but it seems like there are hundreds of Japanese extensively covering the race.

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Throughout the entire race I kept moving around the infield to get a glimpse at every corner.  This was a section where the drivers had to go hard on the brakes going into the Dunlop Corner from 300R – a fast right hander which is basically a straight away.  The Weider HSV no doubt becoming impatient in passing the slower GT300 GTR.

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The Dunlop Corner had some of the best action from a racing standpoint.  Overbraking coming out of 300R made for some really sketchy passes between the two classes.  This shot kind of sums up why I love series like this – Super GT especially.  A Porsche, Audi, and….a Prius?!  Yes!  All in the GT300 class as well.  I’ll point out though that none fared too well this round – 8th, 5th, and 6th place in their respective order.

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I had high hopes for BRZ after all the hype surrounding the new chassis; unfortunately, it is apparent that it’s the first season for this car.  Although it was pure satisfaction that I got to see it race in person, it ended up in a mediocre 9th place at Fuji.  The ARTA Garaiya on the other hand finished a respectable 4th place.  It was great to see these two chase each other down for several laps.  A great dog fight!

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It was cool to see the amount of kids that were brought to the event.  It’s great to see families sharing motor sport with their sons and daughters – and it’s apparent that they love the racing!

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I’ll leave it at that for now – I have plenty more coverage in the days to come from both the race and qualifying.  I’ve given up on keeping it in a specific order – I just want you to enjoy the pics and commentary.  I’m actually on the East Coast right now at a conference that lasts 4 days…but that won’t stop me from posting content for you guys.  Hope you enjoyed and stay tuned for plenty more.  Thanks for visiting!

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