Saturday, May 5, 2018

Super GT Round 2 at Fuji Speedway

Like many of us my fascination for Japan was ignited by something smaller, like cars and video games. I remember following  JGTC races in the early 2000’s and, out of all the tracks, Fuji Speedway always struck a chord: watching these cars taking the checkered flag at sunset with Mount Fuji in the background inspired me to visit Japan and its beautiful landscapes. This country offers so much more than just cars and fancy tech gadgets. Now, 18 years later, the Fuji 500km race is an event that I still attend every year.

Held during Golden Week, attending this race comes with a price to pay, as the traffic to reach the iconic circuit in Shizuoka prefecture can turn the short 85km trip into a 3 plus hours bumper to bumper affair. Nonetheless, the scenery you are rewarded with makes it all worth it.

This year it was so crowded that the massive parking spaces were all full, so much so that I ended up parking a good 20 minutes walking distance away. Mandatory shot of the Bridgestone arch as you cross the main gate.

As always there was no shortage of cool machinery in the parking area, from the latest and greatest supercars, like this Huracan Performante.

To vintage goodness made in Maranello.

Of course, this being Japan, there was plenty of tasty JDM metal too, both new.

And old.

Despite the huge crowd, this time I managed to grab lunch at the local restaurant above the 100R corner and the hairpin - a welcome change from the greasy snacks sold on the food trucks.

The starting grid on the main straight is always very impressive, especially the GT500 class machines. 

Once the green light went off I spent the afternoon moving around the track, hitting my favorite spots, like the Dunlop corner followed by the small chicane.

And the hairpin.

With this race being almost twice as long than the usual 300km there is plenty of time to explore the circuit and enjoy the view. 110 laps went by pretty fast and this time it was fellow Italian Ronnie Quintarelli who took the overall win for the Nismo works team (cool story about Ronnie coming in the next post!).

Right after the finish all the cars are taken straight to technical verification; here there are the Nismo race engineers getting around the GT-R, examining the aftermath of 3 hours of grueling racing.

These cars are incredibly quick and lap Fuji Speedway faster than WEC LMP2 prototypes.

GT racing naturally allows some contact and physicality between drivers: all in fair play, of course, but it’s always impressive to see how the cars go from showroom-ready condition at the beginning of the race to being fully covered with battle scars and debris at the end.

I like how certain historic liveries have stayed the same over the years, with the Calsonic GT-R holding the longevity record as it has basically remained unaltered since the late 80’s. Bit of a fun fact, this livery is actually the longest running motorsport sponsorship in the world, dating back since 1983.

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed the shots.

Until next time.

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