Certainly, the pending Super GT debut of 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button has been one of the big draws of the upcoming 46th International Suzuka 1000km: The Final.
On Friday, June 30th, just after the conclusion of the afternoon test session, Button spoke to the press after a day in mixed conditions in which he got to experience his first competitive testing in the #16 Motul Mugen Honda NSX-GT, which he’ll drive in the Suzuka 1000km on August 27 alongside Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima.
Getting to know the Honda NSX-GT
“Last time [at the June 6-7 tyre manufacturer test], we would just drive a few laps, come back to the pits, rest, and then run again for a few more laps. This time I couldn’t drive in the morning session because of the rain, but I had a chance to experience a long-run (36 laps) in the afternoon.
“And I even had a chance to do an attack lap during the GT500 exclusive time [at the end of the afternoon session]. The NSX-GT is very competitive, and I understand more about the car now, compared to the previous test. The car certainly feels easier to drive, anyway.”
Managing GT300 traffic
“Traffic was not a problem at this test, but I was surprised at how difficult it is to overtake some GT300 class cars – especially the Nissan GT-R. It’s not only fast on the straight, but it can brake later because it has ABS.”
“The situation is different in Super GT, compared to a prototype overtaking a GT car at Le Mans. It’s more difficult to overtake here and you definitely need to take more risks to overtake. But it’s good, it definitely adds to the racing. I found Super GT to be a really exciting race.”
“Pit-stops are actually easier in Super GT. In F1, your marks are indicated by the jack man, but you cannot hit the jack with your car. But in Super GT, a board shows you where to stop and you can hit it, and it’s no problem.”
“I practiced driver changes, and that itself was not a problem. But you need to take out the drinks and radio socket and then take off your seatbelt, so there are many things you need to do – and it was difficult to remember everything.”
(In response to a question about the prior forecast of rain for Saturday’s test)
“I felt more comfortable with the car after driving in the afternoon today. I was also able to get valuable information from the wet conditions earlier in the session. But I would prefer to get more experience in dry-weather conditions.”
“Many things need to be done by the time of the actual race, but without a doubt it’s going in the right direction. Right now, the team is in a good atmosphere. Mutoh and Nakajima have a lot of experience, so I think I can go faster by comparing my lap time with theirs.”
Comments courtesy of the GT Association.