Sunday, May 12, 2019

Golden Week - Super GT Round 2

Golden Week is a period of consecutive holidays that falls between late April and early May, allowing people to enjoy one of the longest breaks of the year. 2019 is actually even longer than normal thanks to the new Imperial transition. As per motorsport tradition, it’s during this week that round 2 of the Super GT series takes place at Fuji Speedway.

To some of my friend’s amusement, attending this event is a small tradition of mine: a day spent trackside watching the best GT racing in the world, enjoying spring weather and Mount Fuji - I’ll take it! The problem with this year’s race is that the weather wasn’t very nice. At all.

I arrived at the circuit in the morning, greeted by clear skies and a nice breeze, grabbed some tempura soba at the restaurant and enjoyed the Porsche Cup sprint race that leads to the main event; everything seemed to go according to plans. 

However, by the time the cars were lined up on the grid, clouds had arrived and rain started to drizzle on the track. Fuji tends to be quite unpredictable when it comes to weather, but the main takeaway here is that things can get nasty very quickly. 

Few minutes into the race a full blown storm was upon the circuit and, after a few laps under safety car, officials eventually decided to call for a red flag and a temporary stop. Talk about timing. Eventually the race resumed, but strong wind combined with a significant drop in temperature made the whole event a lot less enjoyable.

So I decided to move to the more sheltered area behind the main stands, where a few cool cars were on display, starting with this McLaren 720S GT3. 

Very impressive piece of machinery and this particular model was chassis nr.3 that left the customer racing division in Woking. A sister model is currently competing in the GT300 class.

Nissan and Nismo were obviously also present, but there wasn’t much worth to look at besides the new 2019 GT-R in Wangan Blue, this time without the horrendous white stripe: definitely a much better look.

The Lexus stand definitely had the most impressive cars on display. 

The LC500 test mule car is incredible to look at, especially in naked carbon. I am no composite material expert, but the construction on these cars seems to be on the same level as Le Mans prototypes and Formula 1 machines.

The true surprise though, was the LFA parked next to it; and not just “any” LFA, but on of the 50 final Nürburgring Edition in existence.

Finished in the signature orange bespoke for this model the car features a series of upgrades compared to the standard model: 10 extra hp, improved aero, a carbon fixed wing and lighter, race-spec forged Enkei wheels.

It is said that, despite the $375,000 sticker price, the LFA was sold at a loss by Lexus and it’s not difficult to see why. The quality of the carbon construction, the materials and overall finish is a perfect representation of the finest Japanese craftsmanship.

And so, after roaming around the track for a bit longer, I decided to beat the traffic (or at least try to) and left a bit earlier, but not without picking up a few magazines.

Not the day that I hoped for, but sometime you just have to make the most out of it.

Until next time.

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