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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Suzuka Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Suzuka, site of this weekend’s IGTC round…

Photo: Porsche

***Teams taking part in this weekend’s inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours are bracing for the impact of Typhoon Cimaron, the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane that’s set to hit western Japan on Thursday evening. The typhoon is expected to deliver damaging winds at up to 125 mph and dump heavy rains, which could lead to the potential of landslides.

***While located roughly 100 miles east of the eye of the storm, Suzuka is still expected to get significant rainfall and potential damage from the typhoon.

***Heavy rains forced the cancelation of Thursday’s parade, which was to see all 35 cars driven to downtown Suzuka on public roads, and back, in a similar pre-race festival to the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Teams instead remained at the circuit to take part in the first of two “Paid Practice” sessions, just prior to the typhoon’s landfall.

***A second Paid Practice session is scheduled for Friday morning, prior to Free Practice 1 at 1:50 p.m. local time. FP2, which will include night-time running, is set to run from 6:30-8 p.m. tomorrow. Weather is not expected to impact tomorrow’s on-track running.

***While it’s the inaugural round for the Intercontinental GT Challenge in Japan, the annual ‘Summer Endurance Race’ at Suzuka has a rich history of international link-ups.

***The Suzuka 1000km served as a round of the World Sportscar Championship in 1992 and between 1994-96, played host to the BPR Endurance Series followed by FIA GT Championship rounds in 1997 and 1998. It was added as a championship round of Super GT in 2006.

***At 10 hours, the race will be the longest in the event’s 47-year history.

***Despite no longer being a points-paying round, several Super GT300 class teams are taking part including Goodsmile Racing (Mercedes-AMG GT3), D’station Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R), Gainer (Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3), Audi Team Hitotsuyama (Audi R8 LMS), Moduo Drago Corse and CarGuy Racing (Honda NSX GT3) and JLOC (Lamborghini Huracan GT3).

***Additionally, two JAF GT-spec ‘Mother Chassis’ cars will compete alongside the FIA GT3-spec machinery this weekend, with entries from Cars Tokai Dream28 (Lotus Evora MC) and Team UpGarage (Toyota 86 MC). Both cars are equipped with additional lights, as the race will end in darkness.

***SRO Motorsports Group governs the Balance of Performance for GT300 in Super GT, which features the mix of GT3 and JAF GT-spec machinery.

***Black Falcon is running operations for SunEnergy1 Racing’s Mercedes of Kenny Habul, Mikael Greiner and Luca Stolz this weekend, four weeks after fellow German outfit HTP Motorsport ran the car in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Longtime Mercedes engineer Renaud Dufour is helping lead efforts in Suzuka.

***Habul will be with his fifth different team of the year next weekend in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup round at the Hungaroring, where the U.S.-based Australian will drive an AKKA-ASP-prepared Mercedes with Tristan Vautier. Scott Taylor Motorsport operated SunEnergy1’s car in the IGTC season-opener at Bathurst, with Riley Motorsports had run the SunEnergy1-backed Mercedes in the first five rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

***Pierre Dieudonne is back with Audi Sport Team WRT this weekend, in one of his few outings in the team’s GT3 operation this year. The Belgian has been largely focused on the team’s efforts in FIA WTCR, although was present at last month’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, alongside the team’s Blancpain GT sporting director Thierry Tassin.

***Both of the No. 991 Craft Bamboo Racing and Pro-Am class No. 77 D’station Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Rs are running in 2017-spec specification this weekend, having opted against the Evo kit utilized on the three other Porsches in the field.

***While it’s understood the Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Mathieu Jaminet-driven Craft Bamboo entry had the option of utilizing the Evo kit, the team elected against it, with the hopes of a better overall package when combined with the Pirelli’s 2018-spec DHD2 tire.

***An Asian team will soon take delivery of a Porsche 911 RSR for a targeted for a run in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser previously hinted that its next batch of customer deliveries would include one for the Asian continent. 

***Ed Welburn, the Vice President of design at General Motors from 2003-16, is present this weekend to monitor Callaway Competition’s Corvette C7 GT3-R, which makes its Asian debut in an effort run in association with Bingo Racing.

***Several European teams have hired translators for an optimal understanding of the race’s sporting regulations, which have been published in Japanese. 

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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