2016 Race Analysis: Fuji 300km

The next installment in our 2016 Super GT Race Analysis series looks at the second race from Fuji Speedway this season, the Fuji GT 300km Race, held on August 7, 2016.

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, their tyre suppliers, and whether they drove the opening or closing stint of the race.

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

Race Conditions

The Fuji GT 300km Race was a dry race held under sunny skies. Air and track temperatures were the highest they had been all season, with air temperature at 33° C for the start of the race, and track temperatures consistently above 50° C – peaking at 54° C at the start of the race.

The safety car was deployed once during the race, from laps 19 to 25, for both an incident involving the #9 Gulf NAC Porsche 911 and the #22 R’Qs SLS AMG and subsequent debris, as well as the #7 Studie BMW M6 slowing on track.

GT500 Driver Rankings

2016_Rd5_GT500_rankings

  • Fastest Outright Stint: João Paulo de Oliveira (1:31.620 Average). Yuji Tachikawa is traditionally the “Fuji-meister” on the Super GT grid. For 2016, however, nobody could touch JP at Fuji Speedway, going two for two in fastest Top 20 Averages at Fuji in 2016. Oliveira had as close to a perfect weekend as one could possibly have in a Super GT race, taking pole position, leading every lap of his 33-lap opening stint, setting the fastest single lap and Top 20 Average, and eventually, going on to take the win that many felt should have been his on Golden Week holiday.
  • Fastest Closing Stint: Hironobu Yasuda (1:32.243 Average). All Yasuda had to do was drive 33 perfect laps at the end of the race to secure Calsonic Team Impul’s first win of 2016, and a fourth in a row to open the season for Nissan. He did just that, and while the demise of their nearest challenger certainly helped matters, Yasuda was still flawless when it mattered.
  • For those wondering what effect the hotter temperatures had on lap times in this race compared to the 500km in May, the fastest race lap here was two-tenths slower than in May, and the fastest Top 20 Average of the race was 0.576 seconds slower than in May.
Calsonic Impul GT-R achieves lights to flag at Fuji Speedway
Calsonic Impul GT-R achieves lights to flag at Fuji Speedway, the fourth straight victory for Nissan
  • With Satoshi Motoyama posting the second-fastest Top 20 average on his opening stint, fans of MOLA and of his co-driver Katsumasa Chiyo can probably be left to wonder what would have been if the brakes hadn’t failed at nearly 180 miles per hour as Chiyo was starting to chase down Yasuda, causing a crash that would force Chiyo to sit out the Suzuka 1000km.
  • A tremendous round of applause for Tsugio Matsuda (5th fastest) and Ronnie Quintarelli (7th fastest) for going near the top of the leaderboard despite carrying a whopping 84 kilograms of ballast on board their Motul Autech GT-R. Sure, Nissan’s low-downforce package is dominant here, and success ballast has less of an effect at Fuji than at a track like Suzuka, but that’s still no small feat whatsoever.
  • Koudai Tsukakoshi (4th fastest) would not be denied as he drove Keihin Real Racing to Honda’s best finish of the season, and Daisuke Ito (10th fastest) once again showed outstanding race pace in what was a poor weekend for Lexus at their home ground of Fuji Speedway.

2016_Rd5_GT300_rankings

  • Commentary: This safety car intervention was just awful. Terrible. The worst thing ever. Because of the timing of the safety car for the incident with the #9 and #22 and how it was withdrawn right at the start of the GT300 pit window, this meant that half of the drivers who ran the opening stint of the race had their Top 20 Averages ruined by the fact that their twenty fastest laps of the race include multiple laps under the safety car – timed at 2 to 3 minutes a lap. It was enough to make me seriously consider scrapping a race analysis for this event and moving on to Suzuka instead. Anyway.
  • Fastest Outright Stint: Richard Lyons (1:40.138 Average). Lyons tried as valiantly as he possibly could have to run down and pass the ARTA BMW M6 in the final laps of the race to win the GT300 class. While Takashi Kobayashi held him off by just 0.106 seconds at the line, Lyons can take pride in being the fastest driver of the two, and of the whole field.
  • Fastest Opening Stint: Shinichi Takagi (1:40.437 Average). In the end, like the Calsonic GT-R in GT500, the ARTA BMW got the win that probably should have been theirs at the 500km, thanks to the veteran Takagi who had a “grand slam” performance of his own: Pole position, fastest lap, led every lap of his 30-lap stint, and then Kobayashi had just enough at the line to secure the win at the end.
lyons-04
Richard Lyons was the fastest man in the GT300 category at Fuji this past August. © Audi Team Hitotsuyama
  • Dunlop and Bridgestone can take some pride in busting up the glut of Yokohama dominance that’s so prevalent in GT300, as their drivers combined to take eight of the ten best Top 20 averages in GT300. Along with Lyons, Hideki Yamauchi (2nd fastest) and Takuto Iguchi (9th fastest) had a solid race in their own right in the Subaru BRZ – taking back-to-back podiums for the team after zero points in the first two races.
  • Jann Mardenborough (6th fastest) really was a man on a mission, for the second straight race he would be entrusted to bring the B-Max GT-R up from a poor starting position of 17th, to as low as 24th place during the race, to a 6th place finish that kept them in touch of the championship lead. A win in the 500km, plus two huge rallies from deep in the field into the top six – by this point, Nissan had to have been clearing the decks for his GT500 debut in 2017.
  • As it was in GT500, the hotter temperatures had a profound effect on this race’s lap times as well – the difference between the fastest laps being over 1.2 seconds, same as the difference between fastest Top 20 averages.
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