Let me share with you what members of the team had to say about our finish in 8th place at Qualifying.
■ Representative Yasuaki Suzuki
We may be in 8th, but speaking as a team that’s finished in 6th from Role 16, I’m not worried in the least. I think the team really performed smoothly this time around. For example, even though we had some trouble during the practice run, it wasn’t during the finals or anything, and we were able to replace the necessary parts in time. Our drivers gave a perfect performance and there’s a good vibe coming from the mechanics, too. Everyone on the team is feeling positive. We’re going to give it our best to win this thing.
■ Director Itsuo Oshashi
8th is better than I’d expected. At first I thought we’d be lucky to place in 10th. But in fact, many of the cars I was anticipating to come out on top in Q1 were eliminated. At any rate, we cleared Q1 by a pretty narrow margin. It’s no surprise that the JAF cars, Mercedes, and GT-R cars all placed well, giving little margin to work in, and I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it. Qualifying may only be qualifying, but as it’s especially difficult to pass on the Sugo track, it’s important to get the best position we can, even in qualifying.
Our performance in the finals will largely depend on the weather, but as our drivers are both all-rounders, I’m not concerned. All our mechanics’ performance in the pit is top-notch, too, so I think we’re going to do great.
■ Sporting Director Ukyo Katayama
I think we did good. As we weren’t able to clear Q1 during the last round, everyone was on the edge of their seats. Kataoka surpassed our border time right from the get-go, and I had a feeling we were going to do well. He had a better time with each successive lap. Taniguchi also had a great time right from the start, but the hybrid cars quickly worked their way up. Honestly, we haven’t had a chance at the qualifying recently. Though the other GT3s are incredibly fast, we’ll be lined up right in front of our number one rival, the #11 Gainer, making it one of the highlights of season for sure.
■ Driver Nobuteru Taniguchi
Kataoka really gave it his all to clear Q1, so I gave it my all, too. Given the circumstances, I think 8th is the best we could do. We’re 2 seconds faster than last year’s time, and though we’re definitely improving there’s still a gap between us and the other cars. Kataoka got us past the hurdle of Q1 today, so I was able to finish in 8th. We’re all driving as hard as we can, and of course plan to do the same thing tomorrow!
■ Driver Tatsuya Kataoka
I may have just barely finished in 12th in Q1, but as we were driving on a wet track I wasn’t able to anticipate what a tough fight it would be. When the track is wet, it really throws off the balance of the car. I think there were some times during the session when the setting wasn’t quite right, but it still got the job done and we were able to pull off our strategy without any misses. In the end I finished in 12th, making it all in a day’s work. Taniguchi took us up a few more places in Q2, and we’re going to do our absolute best at the finals!