Newly-crowned GT300 champions VivaC Team Tsuchiya were awarded the 2016 ZF Award for Best Mechanics of the Year, the top prize given out to the year’s best team of mechanics in the Autobacs Super GT Series. They are the third GT300 team in as many years to win this award.
The official statement from ZF Japan reads: “Having used their unique inventiveness and technical ability to build on the mother chassis and develop a machine that was competitive against the top class of vehicles, the team managed to take their first season victory in round 7 at Thailand. They are also able to boast having been in the championship fight right up until the final round.” And ultimately, they took the championship in the final round of the season, with the #25 VivaC Toyota 86 MC of Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui.
Tsuchiya, the team’s lead driver, is also the Chief Engineer of a team of mechanics comprising of Chief Mechanic Kim Kyon Mo, and mechanics Yoshikazu Masuda, Tomokazu Miyajima, Toru Miyajima, Yoshiaki Muto, Motohiro Sano, Yoshinobu Sano, and Taro Uchida.
The ZF Award was also presented to the best team of mechanics at each of the individual rounds of the 2016 Super GT season:
Okayama – #25 VivaC Team Tsuchiya: Despite suffering a crash at the joint tests held in Okayama in March, the hard work of these mechanics saw that the vehicle was repaired by the second day of tests at Mt Fuji held the following week. This they followed up with a superb pole position in the opening round. Although they didn’t manage to take victory they completed the race in a commendable 6th place.
Fuji 500km – #55 Autobacs Racing Team Aguri: Changing this season from a hybrid to an FIA GT3 machine, the team managed to take this vehicle of completely different specifications and build it into a competitive unit capable of taking pole position in only its 2nd race since its debut. The car went on to display fast pace and reliability in the final race and the crew carried out rapid and mistake-free pit work that enabled it to secure the 2nd step on the podium. It is for this successful effort that we grant them this award.
Sugo – #61 Subaru R&D Sport: Although their car went off course and crashed at SP Corner during official practice, the hard work of the mechanics ensured it was ready for qualifying. The drivers rewarded this hard work with an exemplary performance of their own to secure a 3rd place qualification. The entire team then went on to work late into the night and early in the morning on race day to work out any remaining kinks. It was this tireless effort that saw the team walk away with a 3rd place podium.
Fuji 300km – #12 Calsonic Team IMPUL: Their tireless work rebuilt the machine in time for testing after suffering some serious damage in round 2 that saw victory slip out of their fingertips. They were also forced to rapidly repair damage suffered through a crash at SUGO that resulted in a retirement. Although their settings weren’t completely decided by official practice, by Q1 the car was almost perfect and impeccable pit work guided them to victory in the race.
Suzuka 1000km – #18 Team Upgarage with BANDOH: Despite suffering a crash at SUGO and struggling to procure parts due utilizing the mother chassis, they steadily got the machine ready for this round and secured their first pole position. Although they were unable to achieve a podium finish in the race they carried out an error free race to finish in 4th.
Buriram – #19 Lexus Team WedsSport BANDOH: The team maintained the car in top form throughout practice and qualifying before sending it out into the race. Their tire selection for the final battle was perfect and pit work completely error free earring the team their first victory.
Motegi (Round 3) – #24 Kondo Racing: Due to the overall conditions of the machine / the drivers and the team,they decided to go with a strategy of not changing tires during the race. In order to carry out that strategy the mechanics had to ensure they had every aspect perfectly in line in order to carry out a steady race right until the finish line. So far they are 1 of only 2 teams that have taken two victories this season. (NOTE: They ultimately finished as one of two GT500 teams that won multiple races in 2016.)
Motegi (Round 8) – #31 apr Racing: Having experienced machine trouble during round 3’s race held on the previous day, the team had parts brought in from their factory at Atsugi and worked throughout the night to restore their car. From there they managed to attain a phenomenal pole position and then engage in the top order fight for the championship, demonstrating just how well they had brought the car back to fighting form.
More information on the ZF Award, as well as previous winners from the 2014 and 2015 seasons, can be found on the ZF Japan official website.