Saturday, May 6, 2017

Super GT Round 2 - Fuji 500km

The Super GT Fuji 500km race is an event that I try to attend every year. Maybe is the 1.5 kilometers long straight with one of Japan's most iconic symbols in the backdrop, or maybe are the memories of hours spent as a kid collecting photos online of vintage JGTC races, but, no matter how many times I have visited, being trackside at Fuji Speedway is always special.

Round 2 of the Super GT series takes place in the middle of Golden Week, which usually means a completely packed facility.

The more tenacious fans come fully equipped, going as far as setting up tents on the side of the course!

Getting around the exhibitors area and food stands is almost a feat - it's really that packed.

Some fans waited in line up to two hours to try the demo of the new Gran Turismo Sport, scheduled to release later this year.

Nismo was also present with a stand full of gadget and the mighty 2013 Super GT machine: I really prefer this look over the new aero regulations that mirror DTM ones.

All the major makers and factory teams take this opportunity to showcase their latest and greatest machines.

And Web Cartop managed to gather a very colorful lineup of cars for some magazine shoot.

This time I took a long walk and decided to pay my first visit to Fuji Speedway Old Course Memorial Park.

The 30 degree bank corner is really steep and must be seen in person to be truly appreciated - lots of drivers have lost their lives here.

Walking around the parking lots is a small event in itself, as all sort of cars can be found. From old Japanese classics:

To mid-90's icons.

All the way to more rare gems.

And even vintage Porsches!

Coming race-time the tension on the starting grid is almost palpable.

And the traditional rolling start kicks off the 110 laps battle.

Moving around the track is fairly easy and allows fans to admire the race from every corner. The famous hairpin at the end of the main straight is a great place to watch braking showdowns.

While the exit from the 100R corner allows to fully appreciate the incredible cornering speeds of this machines with Mount Fuji in the background.

The last part of the technical zone is a great place to watch the drivers showcasing perfect racecraft as they draw flawless trajectories out of every turn.

It's in this very area of the track that Max Orido in his Laborghini Huracán had to abruptly stop his race due to a suspension failure that led to losing his right rear wheel!

Watching the cars accelerating down the main straight while every gear change is accompanied by a loud exhaust explosion is something worth the admission ticket alone. To put things in prospective: GT500 machines are faster around Fuji than LMP2 prototypes.

And after 110 laps and almost three hours of racing the Zent Cerumo LC500 took the checkered flag, while fans rushed below the podium for celebratory photos.

All the cars were quickly gathered inside the closed area for post-race technical inspection.

I have always loved how colorful and unique are the Japanese liveries compared to other series: it adds so much to these machines allure.

Fans were also allowed to walk around the course: definitely a cool experience.

The sun slowly disappeared behind Mount Fuji, marking the end to a very long, yet satisfying day.

Until next time.

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