Good evening, everybody!
Here are the team comments regarding the recent win at Autopolis!
■ Director Suzuki Yasuaki
Despite holding the final race back-to-back with qualifying, to have everything go as well as it did was largely due to luck, but I still think we couldn’t have done it without a core of strong team cohesion. After the race at Autopolis last year, our chances of reigning champion had completely vanished. It was an incredibly desolate and agonizing thought to take on to the final race – and a memory that scars me to this day. It was an experience I didn’t want to repeat. But with the victory at Fuji, we’ve come to see the light at the end of the tunnel – and with this race, becoming champion truly is within our grasp. The fact alone that we have the right to fight for first place going into the last race is enough in itself to rejoice, and I’m relieved that we haven’t let fans down. Maybe this time, rather than “happy,” I’d say I’m more “relieved” than anything else. (lol) I’m glad that fans can keep their hope up all the way to the final race.
■ Director Istuo Ohashi
I’d say that today’s victory is probably due less to our overall strategy than to other reasons, such as the tires and situations of other cars. Performance-wise, there was a big gap from 2nd place on down (in terms of finish time), but it wasn’t because we actually strived for it – everything from the drivers, to the team, to the car, to the tires just all fell into place perfectly. During the morning qualifying, we didn’t have any time to toggle with the set up but got it right, and just stayed on top of things during the finals all the way to victory.
■ Sporting Director Ukyo Katayama
I’m glad we were able to achieve such an amazing finish. Qualifying was pushed together with the finals due to poor weather, and because of that there were teams that had to change out their tires, and though I think we pushed ourselves to victory through team cohesion, luck really came through to save us in the end. Maybe I’m the only one thinking critically about this, you see, but I think the next race at Motegi is going to be a rough ride. Of course, the car really improved after the visit from Steffan and Jorg at BMW during the Suzaku 1000km, the tires were perfect, and everyone’s concentration was at peak, but that’s all the more reason we have to pull it together even more for the final race. I’ve never seen a race that went 100% perfect in all my career, and I’d say today was probably only 99%.
■ Driver Nobuteru Taniguchi
I never thought it would go this well in my wildest dreams. Other teams had to change out their tires and some experienced other trouble, so in a big sense we were pretty lucky. But Yokohama prepared some excellent tires for us, and Kataoka was able to pull ahead in the race from the very start, handing the car off to me when he was in 3rd place. I knew this was the time I had to do it, and gave it all I had to out-lap the other cars. As soon as I pulled in front of the GT-R, I was like, “Alright Aston – you’re next!” I drove as hard as I could. But after I passed the Aston, I was surprised that no one even came close to back bumper. It wasn’t until after I finished that I realized there was such a gap. I think this is the best race we’ve had so far.
■ Driver Tatsuya Kataoka
Today’s victory was due to our excellent tires. And after just a few laps while the other cars started to drag behind, and we were able to improve our lap time. That’s probably the biggest reason. Also, most of the cars that we likely would have been caught behind from the start all went to change out their tires early, also improving our lap time. The qualifying was just as trying as always, but the pit crew and drivers didn’t have any slip-ups, and it was more of a perfect race than I could have ever imagined. Both breaking and cornering went well this time too, so I think we were really able to utilize the car’s built-in performance.