2016 Race Analysis: Fuji 500km

The second installment of our 2016 Super GT race analyses takes us back to May 4, 2016, and the running of the Golden Week classic, the Fuji GT 500km Race at Fuji Speedway. It is the first of two long-distance races that were held last season.

Our driver rankings are compiled using average of the twenty fastest race laps by each driver in the race. This is inspired by the driver rankings compiled by endurance racer David Heinemeier Hansson, for WEC and IMSA events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Each driver is ranked by their top 20 race laps’ average, as well as their fastest race laps and total number of race laps.

Owing to the unique elements of Super GT racing, we will also list each driver’s Success Ballast handicap and their tyre suppliers. Their stints during the race will also be recorded: Opening, Middle, and/or Closing stint.

Be sure to click on the images of each driver rankings table to view them in full!

Race Conditions

The 2016 Fuji 500km was a dry race held under sunny skies. Track temperature was 40° C throughout the start and middle portions of the race, eventually cooling to 35° C at the end of the race. Air temperature was 24°C at the start, 26°C in the middle, 23°C at the end.

The race had one safety car period, observed from laps 72 to 77 due to debris from a tyre failure on the #100 Raybrig NSX-GT.

GT500 Driver Rankings

2016_Rd2_GT500_rankings

  • Fastest Outright Stint: João Paulo de Oliveira (1:31.043 Average). The lasting image of this race will be the sight of Oliveira lying supine on the tyre barriers in disbelief after a catastrophic tyre failure with four laps to go ended the Calsonic team’s chances of victory. It’s a shame, yes, but it should not detract from the job that JP did in this race, recording the fastest Top 20 average by nearly four tenths of a second, leading the way for much of his two stints, and having a very entertaining battle for the lead with Ronnie Quintarelli (3rd fastest) before it all went so wrong.
  • Fastest Middle Stint: Katsumasa Chiyo (1:31.806 Average). Ten of the top eleven averages belong to drivers that drove both the opening and closing stints of the race. The outlier here is Chiyo, who drove the other Nissan GT-R that could have won the race if not for a mishap. Chiyo tied for the longest middle stint at 45 laps, and even if by just one hundreth of a second, his Top 20 average was faster than that of his co-driver Satoshi Motoyama.
0506_45
J.P. Oliveira recorded the fastest 20 lap average at the Fuji 500km. © Impul
  • Honda still looked a noticeable step behind Lexus and Nissan, but at least with the benefit of zero Success Ballast, drivers like Koudai Tsukakoshi, and Hideki Mutoh still posted averages ranked inside the top ten.
  • Hiroaki Ishiura’s second-fastest middle stint indicated what was apparent on track when the #38 ZENT Cerumo RC-F ran out of fuel after the safety car: That they had a real chance to win at the end. Co-driver Yuji Tachikawa’s average will have suffered from a comparative lack of laps run in the race – he was due to take over after their second pit stop.
  • This race seemed to be a benefit for the Michelin and Bridgestone teams, with the pace of the Yokohama and Dunlop runners looking paltry in comparison. Despite this, Daiki Sasaki snatched fastest lap of the race on his closing stint.

GT300 Driver Rankings

2016_Rd2_GT300_rankings

  • Fastest Outright Stint: Takashi Kobayashi (1:38.928 Average). The ARTA BMW M6 was properly quick all weekend, its powerful twin-turbo V8 engine really able to stretch out its legs on Fuji’s high-speed sections. Kobayashi unlocked the car’s potential with a blistering pole lap on Saturday, and the best Top 20 average in the race, three-tenths clear of the second-best average of eventual race winner, Jann Mardenborough.
  • Fastest Middle Stint: Shinichi Takagi (1:40.147 Average). Just as it was in Okayama with Haruki Kurosawa and Naoya Gamou, Kobayashi and Takagi were fastest in both opening/closing and middle stints respectively. Just as Kobayashi averaged 0.3 seconds quicker than Mardenborough, Takagi had the same delta to Kazuki Hoshino, who drove the middle stint in the B-Max NDDP GT-R. Issues with fuel consumption, however, would prove to be the ARTA BMW’s shortfall.
artabmw_020
Takashi Kobayashi (L) and Shinichi Takagi (R) finished second in GT300 at the Fuji 300km.
  • The second-fastest driver who drove only a single stint, behind Takagi, was a surprise – Shigekazu Wakisaka, third driver in the LMcorsa Ferrari, who posted the 11th fastest average, faster than full-time co-driver Morio Nitta, during the closing stint of the race.
  • With Seiji Ara posting the fifth-fastest average, and Jörg Müller posting the third-fastest average in a middle stint (15th overall), one can only be left to wonder if the Studie BMW M6 would have had something for their BMW rivals at ARTA, were it not for a power steering fluid leak that cost them 16 laps in repairs.
  • Same could be said for the pace of Yuichi Nakayama (4th fastest average) and Hideki Yamauchi (6th fastest average), the #31 Prius of Nakayama losing out with a brake issue, the #61 Subaru of Yamauchi penalized for illegally overtaking the safety car.

Tomorrow, we run through an intriguing Round 4 at Sportsland SUGO!

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