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Looking Back on the Finals from a Mechanic’s Perspective


 

In the end, we finished the finals in

1st Place!

That makes for our second consecutive win!

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First of all, let me give a big thanks to everyone out there for all of your support!   Without it, none of this would be possible!  Everyone who make it out to the circuit, and everyone who couldn’t but was able to show their support in other ways, this victory was yours!

Man… And there I was thinking this week would never be over…

The temperatures were much higher than imagined, making the tires a poor match for the conditions, and with enough minor troubles to create an impact on our overall time, we stayed up late into the night Saturday until we thought we’d fixed everything, only to have something else break on Sunday…

And just like that, with one problem after the next we fixed all kinds of things right up until the final race.

On the day of finals, both air and road temperatures again climbed higher than anticipated, so maintaining the right tire pressure was really hard.  Tire pressure basically means the amount of air we put into the tires.  If it’s too high, they can drag the car down, but if it’s too low the tires can burst.

The first problem we encountered heading into Sunday morning was when the right rear speed sensor detected an abnormality, indicating that the anti-lock brake system was malfunctioning.  We knew the cause immediately, but it took a lot of time to change out the parts, meaning we were only able to get a few laps in during the free run.

We’d planned to get some pit practice in during the free run, but were unable to in the end and had to just jump right in to the final race.

Alright everyone, start your engines!

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Even the mechanics were praying, “Seriously, no more problems,” so we had to think everything was going to turn out alright…  But in the chaos of the beginning of the race, we knew that with a slow straight-away speed this was going to be difficult race for the Z4.

So our strategy was to have a short first stint…   the plan was to get in and out before other teams, but then the pace car came out and all the top runners pulled into the pit.

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The pit work went down without a hitch, and by the time all cars had exited the pit we’d manage to climb to 3rd!

All the cars in the top positions were driving at about the same pace, when all of a sudden the #11 Gainer SLS collided with a GT500 car and went into a spin!

Maybe it sustained some damage to the tires, because after that it slowed down little by little.

At this point, Driver Taniguchi radioed in, “I can see the car in 2nd in right front of me.”  And just like that he went into high-gear, taking up speed!  And overtook him!  There were only a few laps before the next pit stop, so you wouldn’t think there was a need to preserve the tires or anything.

And then, the 2nd pit stop!  We changed drivers, all 4 tires, refueled, and were ready to head back out!

Don’t worry, the tire change went down without a hitch!  (^^)/

But then, right at that moment something happened that made my heart start to race…

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The front of the car was damaged in a collision.  There was a GTA official right there in the pit saying, “It’s a hazard, so fix it,” making us lose many precious seconds.  On the other hand, I’m glad it was just that!

When we left the pit we were in the top position, but right behind us tires with already warmed up was the #0 Mugen CR-Z!

Of course, with our tires still cool on the out lap like that, we were passed.

After that was a fight for 2nd place with #11 Gainer!  It went on for more laps than I counted.

#11 kept laying the pressure on Katayama by hitting the breaks, making Katayama all the more ambitions to drive even harder – there were countless times when the whole thing seemed like something out of a movie.

The battle seemed to go on forever, but incredibly, with only 6 laps remaining, the Mugen CR-Z went into a spin!

The battle for 2nd was transformed into a battle for 1st!

My heart was racing so fast, these seemed like the longest six laps ever, but everyone held their breath with the thought that Kataoka would surely be able to pull it off.

And the checkered flag finish!

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The Hatsune Miku Z4 was the first to cross the checkered flag.

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And the car inspection went down with no problems – lol.

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With this victory, we finally pulled off our, “One time we’ll definitely win!” that we’ve been saying since 2011.  We notoriously perform poorly at the Fuji International Speedway.

The car was certainly our greatest ally this race.

Because despite

1.  The top-ranking car spin out

2.  The pit timing

3.  The penalty

4.  Everything that seemed to go wrong with the Z4 on Saturday and up through Sunday morning

and everything else, we were still able to win the race!  I don’t think it would be mistaken to say that luck has been on our side this year, either!

The next race will be at the Autopolis, a track where we won last year and that’s well suited for our car.  But with an 80kg weight handicap, it looks like this is going to become a difficult race after all…

Driver Nobuteru Taniguchi may have said this himself in an interview, but we’re aiming to win!  lol

So it goes without saying we plan to make this our third consecutive win!

This really is the best team ever.

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Thank you all so much!

Of course, I wasn’t able to take that many pictures, so Swemy prepared all of these for me.  Thanks, Swemy!

 

- Shunsuke

 

 

 


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