Your browser does not currently have the Flash Player version 8 that is required to view this site.
Please click here to download the latest Flash Player version.
HOME / MOTORSPORTS / SUPER GT 2014 / Round 1 News Index
  << BACK  
Event summary
5-6 Apr. 2014
Okayama International
Circuit (Japan)
Race Lap
(1Lap = 3,703m)
>> Report@@>> Result
Okayama GT 300km Race, the season opener of the 2014 Super GT series, was held at Okayama International Circuit on April 5-6, 2014. This was the first race for the all new GT500 cars, which have identical monocoque chassis sharing the same design with DTM cars in Germany, 2 liter in-line 4 cylinder direct injection turbo charged engines from each manufacturers, and carbon fiber brakes.

In the new look GT500 class, WedsSport ADVAN RC F and D'station ADVAN GT-R join the championship using the race tires supplied by Yokohama Tire again this year. And in the GT300 class, many different cars, such as Nissan GT-R, BMW Z4, and Porsche 911, all of which belong to FIA GT3 category, as well as a hybrid JAF GT category car, Toyota Prius, race with the Yokohama supplied tires.

Last year, the curtain raiser in Okayama had been hit by bad weather and history repeated itself. The weather was erratic throughout the weekend, with a cold wind blowing as if winter returned. But the race track remained in a dry condition at least for the official practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday.

The qualifying session was run under the knock out system, as it had been last year. In the GT300 class, 9 out of 13 cars that got through Q1 were using the Yokohama tires. Among them, OGT Panasonic Prius with Morio Nitta at the wheel clocked 1'26h774 - just fell short of a new course record, though - in Q2 and secure the pole position. With Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4 taking second place in the session, the two Yokohama shoed cars sat on the GT300 front row.

However, the two GT500 cars in the Yokohama camp were a little less fortunate. Daiki Sasaki, a promising GT500 debutant, drove D'station ADVAN GT-R in Q1 but he had a transmission problem during the session. Meanwhile, WedsSport ADVAN RC F's engine wasn't in perfect condition when Yuhi Sekiguchi, who moved to the Lexus camp this year, made his qualifying attempt. As a result, their efforts to make their way into Q2 were also unsuccessful.

The weather conditions became worse on Sunday morning and it even hailed just before the warm up session started. Because of this, the drivers had to run on wet tires for most of the session but Michael Krumm in D'station ADVAN GT-R was among the first in the GT500 class to switch to slick tires on the drying track. He eventually set the fastest time of the session, 1'28h638, and it looked promising for the race, given the erratic weather.

With Krumm in D'station ADVAN GT-R on the 10th grid and Sekiguchi in WedsSport ADVAN RC F on 13th, the race got under way at 2 o'clock p.m. They ably steered away from a minor incident on the opening lap and completed the lap in 10th and 11th.

When the race was about to enter into its 17th lap, it suddenly started raining but stopped soon after. After keeping their positions for a while, Sekiguchi overtook Krumm on Lap 21, exchanging the positions between them. As one of their opponents made a pit stop soon after that, they moved up to the point earning positions, WedsSport ADVAN RC F in 9th and D'station ADVAN GT-R in 10th.

During Lap 35, Krumm in D'station ADVAN GT-R made a pit stop to change to Sasaki. But the Japanese suffered from the car's strangely instable behavior that occurred during his stint and the problem prevented him from maintaining a good pace, especially in the closing stage of the race. At the end of the day, he had to settle for finishing in 12th.

WedsSport ADVAN RC F went on for much longer. The team opted to extend Sekiguchi's stint as long as possible and, after becoming the interim race leader on Lap 40, he finally came in on Lap 43 and changed to Juichi Wakisaka. Following Raybrig NSX Concept-GT closely in the early stage of his stint, the veteran showed a remarkable performance within the top 10 but he was overtaken by S Road Mola GT-R on Lap 80, which meant he ended the race in 11th, just one place shy of the last championship point.

As for the GT300 class, Tatsuya Kataoka in Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4 rocketed at the start and got ahead of the pole sitting OGT Panasonic Prius, with Nitta at the wheel, at the first corner. But Nitta didn't allow Kataoka to pull away and Seiji Ara in Studie BMW Z4 also joined them to fight for the lead position.

The leaders continued in status quo for a while, until a sudden shower on Lap 17 broke it; Bjorn Wirdheim in Gainer Dixel SLS, using a competing brand's tires, came up rapidly, because of the car's excellent electronic 'driver aids' such as traction control system. On Lap 20, the Swede finally became the race leader by overtaking Nitta at Attwood Curve and then Kataoka as well at the first of double hairpins.

But then Wirdheim was forced to make a pit stop on Lap 35, which was a little earlier than scheduled, because he had a problem on his tires. This gave the lead position back to Kataoka and, with Ara also moving up to second, the Yokohama shoed two BMW Z4's regained the one-two formation.

Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4 was the first of the top 2 to come in for the mandatory pit stop. Kataoka changed to Nobuteru Taniguchi and the team replaced only 2 tires on the left hand side during the stop. Being aware of the rival's clever tactic, Studie BMW Z4 made its pit stop on Lap 43 and they did the same, replacing 2 tires on the LH side, to send Jorg Muller, who was handed the car by Ara, to the track as quickly as possible. It was quite close but, when Muller left the pit exit, Taniguchi just went by on the pit straight at full speed.

The gap between the two BMW's was about 10 seconds at one time but it rapidly shrunk to less than a second in the closing stage of the race. Nevertheless, Tanuguchi managed to hold on to his lead and Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Z4's crew, he and Kataoka, smiled on the highest place of the season opener's podium. Studie BMW Z4 finished in second, rounding out the one-two finish of the Yokohama shoed GT300 cars.

Actually, 4 cars out of the GT300 class top 6 were equipped with the Yokohama tires, as B-Max NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Lucas Ordonez) finished in 4th and Leon SLS (Haruki Kurosawa/Kyosuke Mineo) in 5th. OGT Panasonic Prius, driven by Nitta and Koki Saga, retired on Lap 22 due to an electrical problem.
Driver's Voice
Nobuteru Taniguchi
@[Result : Winner in the GT300 class]
gKataoka did a great job today and built a good gap with the others. Then the team gained a few more seconds during the pit stop and I just spent the savings (laugh). It might look that Jorg Muller was so fast and all I could do was play a defensive game. But, in reality, I was calculating the remaining laps and the gap with him to manage my tires until the finish.

gI am delighted with this win and feel relieved, really. It is almost impossible to know how the power balance of the GT300 class is this year only from the result of this race. But today we managed to secure the victory when we could reach it and that's why I am happy all the more. I desperately want to win the championship this year.h
Seiji Ara
@[Result : 2nd in the GT300 class]
gThe track conditions were quite difficult, mainly because of the rain, but today we had a very solid car which probably allowed us to close the gap even under such conditions. I feel fortunate about it. Having had a very limited track time with this car before the race, we had a lot of uncertainty. But everything went smoothly from the beginning of the practice session and I am pleased to finish the race in second and get on the podium.

gThis was the first time for me to be paired with Jorg (Muller) but things went so smoothly today. I believe we can be even stronger driving team in future races. The tires worked well with our car and a good performance was there both in the qualifying session and the race, so I am really satisfied with the performance of the tires.h
Engineer's Voice
Syuichi Fujishiro
gAs for the GT500 tires, there was a major breakthrough, which was the biggest one in recent years, during our off season development work. So we were confident that the tires had made a certain amount of progress and we could see it to some extent during the race weekend of the season opener. In this sense of the word, they are the true 2014 specification tires. But we still need a lot of work in the matching with the cars and I think this might have caused the performance gap with our rivals.

gIn the qualifying session on Saturday, both of our cars had mechanical problems which prevented us to make our way to Q2, but we could see the expected performance of tires was there. In the race and especially in the closing stage, however, both WedsSport ADVAN RC F and D'station ADVAN GT-R dropped their paces to a larger extent than our rivals. We must examine whether it was on the part of tires or on the part of cars.

gIn the GT300 class, we were pleased to see a one-two finish by the Yokohama shoed cars. The top 2 BMW's replaced only 2 tires on the left hand side during the pit stop and finished the race without any trouble. And there were no major tire related problems on the other cars in our camp. So I would say it was a good race for us.

gFor the next Fuji round, we plan to introduce a new specification that is different from the tires we used here and that was based on the data from the last group test at the circuit. Our two GT500 cars completed the race distance here, which allowed us to collect a plenty of new data. It should be beneficial for future races.h