Sunday, April 7, 2013

Super GT: A weekend to forget for Audi teams at Okayama

By Tarek Ramchani

Okayama hosted the season opener of the Japanese Super GT series this weekend. As in 2012 the Audi R8 LMS ultra is taking part in the demanding GT300 class. Two Audi teams were present at the event, Hitotsuyama Racing and äpr racing, with some disappointing results in the end.

Both Hitotsuyama Racing and äpr racing are returning to the series with Audi. Hitotsuyama Racing,  unlike last season, is entering a single Audi R8 LMS utlra, a brand new 2013 spec car on Hankook rubber. The #21 ZENT car had an extra 40 kg added by the GTA, the series organizers, as the car is not yet homologated by the FIA. The other car from äpr racing was in its 2012 specification, using Yokohama tires. Both teams struggled in the qualifying sessions. Hitotsuyama Racing finished eighteenth in class, even worse for äpr racing with no time at all.

On race day things were not different, both Audi cars were forced to follow behind. In the end the #30 IWASAKI R8 of äpr racing ended fourteenth in the GT300 class with drivers Yuki Iwasaki and Fairuz Fauzy. The #21 ZENT R8 of Hitotsuyama Racing finished in sixteenth, in the hands of Richard Lyons and Akihiro Tsuzuki. The race win went to the #11 GAINER DIXCEL Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, the same team that gave Audi its first and only GT300 class win in Super GT last year. One thing is clear now, the Audi R8 LMS ultra is severely penalized in Super GT. Since its debut race win last year, at the same Okayama circuit, the car has been facing a very unfair Balance of Performance. The race results of Okayama race are here.

Next stop for Super GT will be at Fuji in three weeks time. We hope that both Audi teams will be allowed to compete fairly.

Photo credit: Hitotsuyama Racing