Hello, everyone! Swemy here.
I know it’s a bit late, but I’d like to share comments from the team regarding our 15th place finish at Sugo.
■ Director Suzuki Yasuaki
No points – that’s the one thing we absolutely can’t do, and we’ve gone and done it. We knew it would be hard to take the cup by getting all our points at once, but now that looks exactly like the situation we’ve found ourselves in… As soon as the rain started to fall, we could stay with our slicks, change to rain tires, or go to intermediate. We had those three choices, but went with the rain tires. Looking at our results, I’d say this is one gamble that didn’t pay off. But even so, if we were to stay like that we’d finish the race in 8th or 9th place, and well, it wouldn’t have been great. So we really had no choice but to make the bet. Of course, if we didn’t take that gamble, we would have only been able to climb up to 8th or 9th, and that would have been another problem. We had to do everything we could to improve our performance in any way we could to avoid it. Put quite bluntly, the car’s lack of performance is blatantly clear, but it’s not an issue of what’s wrong with the BMW, the success ballasts levied on the basis of the European race results are really giving me a headache.
■ Director Istuo Ohashi
Our current strategy seemed to rely heavily on getting in and out of the pit quickly to pull ahead. But if other cars pull in at the same time as we do, we’re unable to leave first. Obtaining points is of course most important in determining who becomes champion, the truth of the matter is, there’s no fail safe way on how to get them. You can have the best drivers, team, and strategy, and no slip ups, but even so, it’s frustrating when you don’t get the results you anticipate. At this race, car #52 came into the pit at the same time as we did, but even though we were able to leave the pit first, we were passed on our out-lap, setting us back for the whole race. It’s really difficult for us to pass on this course. We really learned the hardship of seeing our strategy fall apart at this race.
■ Sporting Director Ukyo Katayama
Speaking in terms of our finish, this race was a total disaster. Everything was going as anticipated from the start, and we planned to go into the pit early in order to pull ahead, which should have worked according to plan as the weather in Sendai was much cooler than usual and hard tires would have held up. And in fact, it did work according to plan up to mid-race. The top 4 cars were all clumped together in the front, so we had plenty of room to climb ahead. The only thing we were wrong about was car #53 (Okinawa SLS) coming into the pit at the same time. And when we went back to the track, we got caught up behind the cars in front of us. But more than anything, the main reason we couldn’t climb higher than 8th was the rain. Thinking with a cool head now, we were probably way ahead of ourselves when we changed out the tires. If the rain had fallen any harder, pit road would have been congested, but basically we lost out by jumping the gun. Unfortunately, our fate was set two laps after we left the pit. This race seemed to be nothing but mistakes. But given the circumstances, we really had no other choice.
■ Driver Nobuteru Taniguchi
Kataoka may have started the race in role 8, but it was a tough race and he wasn’t able to climb ahead any further. Accordingly, he followed the first part of our strategy to the letter and focused on getting into the pit as soon as possible, before all the other cars, in order to pull our first and get ahead. But car #52 came into the pit at the same time, and even though I came our of the pit first, I was heavily passed on the straightaway. Even if the competitors in front were preventing me from passing, the situation just kept going from bad to worse. When the rain started to fall, we thought it may be our big chance for a comeback and changed to rain tires, but our reading of the situation was all wrong. With nothing in the way, the Z4 has incredible speed, but in a finals race it’s hard to gain speed, putting us in a bottleneck. I wasn’t able to pass any of the cars in front of me. And since everyone around me knew that, they were able to block passes easily. The BOP (success ballast) is currently our biggest setback.
■ Driver Tatsuya Kataoka
I started in role 8, but the car was performing well, and I’d say I was cornering better than the drivers around me, but without the necessary speed I was unable to pull ahead, even when tailing in a corner. There were times when I’d overtake a slower car in a corner only to be overtaken again in the straightaway, and this just kept happening over and over. I thought it would be our routine in and out pit strategy where we pull ahead, but our wish wasn’t granted this time and we remained in 8th. But we weren’t after 8th or 9th, so when the rain started we bet everything we had on the rain tires. It was our only chance to pull ahead, and I think we had no other choice. We definitely wouldn’t have made the gamble if we had a higher position, but our lust for victory and thoughts of standing on the winners podium led us to make the choice. It may have worked to our detriment, but as we have to do absolutely everything we can in order to win, I don’t think it was a mistake.