Series name: 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT SERIES ROUND 8
Event Name: MOTEGI GT 250km
Course: 4.801km x 53 laps (254.45km)
Qualifying 2013-11-2 Sat. / Cloudy / Attendance 14,500 (Announcement from the organizer)
Race 2013-11-3 Sun. /Cloudy / Attendance 30,000 (Announcement from the organizer)
The #16 MUGEN CR-Z GT of Hideki Muto and Yuki Nakayama participated in Round eight of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT SERIES held on November 2nd and 3rd at TWIN RING MOTEGI.
#16 MUGEN CR-Z GT went into the final race in the series as the points leader in both the drivers and team rankings, with an 8 and 12 point lead respectively.
For the final race of the season all handicap weight was removed from the machines competing, which meant that 68kg of ballast was removed from #16 MUGEN CR-Z GT, and the restrictor size as raced in round 6 was reinstated giving φ29.1 x 2 as opposed to the φ28.5 x 2 that had been imposed at the previous race. However, the machine was still kept under technical restraint by the continued requirement for the 8mm additional vehicle ride-height and the restrictor for the fuel pump.
An increase to the vehicle weight makes harder work for the brakes into a corner, but the stability of the vehicle under braking is beneficial for the hybrid system in its kinetic energy recovery. On the other hand, reducing the vehicle weight allows for increased corner speeds and a swifter change of direction, however the chassis platform becomes more difficult to control and the peaky nature of this means the hybrid system tends be less effective. Increasing the vehicle ride-height tends to add to this condition. Therefore the mechanics are required to produce a setting that controls the vehicle movement as much as possible while the driver must concentrate on maintaining machine balance during the driving stint.
In order to optimize the vehicle settings Team MUGEN re-analyzed the data gathered the last time the vehicle ran under the same technical conditions, which was the joint test in September at Twin Ring Motegi.
November 3rd (Sun)
■Race : 2nd (50 laps 1:35:44.866 / Best lap time 1:51.379)
The race started off under a cloudy sky but with dry track conditions.
The first stint of #16 MUGEN CR-Z GT saw MUTO maintaining the 3rd position where he started.
The championship situation was that #16 MUGEN CR-Z GT would become series champion by finishing in 3rd position even if #11 was to win the race, but in any case Muto jumped up to 2nd position after passing the #61 at the 90 degree corner on the 10th lap.
After completing refueling and 2 tires exchange at the pit stop Nakayama took over behind the wheel on the 22nd lap with a deficit of 30 seconds to the leader and a 4 second lead over 3rd position.
Due to some teams strategy of choosing a late pit stop Nakayama immediately dropped to 8th position but by maintaining a good racing pace he progressed up through the order to 5th position on lap 30, and 4th one lap later, and then back up to 2nd position on lap 34 once the other teams had completed their own pit stops.
On lap 35, the race leader, #11, was 40 seconds ahead of #16, but there was a 12 seconds advantage back to 3rd position. Lap by lap #61 and #4 began to close the gap to #16 lap as Nakayama was forced to adapt his race pace to running with unchanged front tires and exhausted rear tires.
At the chequered flag Nakayama crossed the line in 2nd position, but with a slim lead of just 0.478 seconds over the 3rd position car the championship was under threat from the #61 and #4 machines to the very end .
As a result Team MUGEN added 18 points to their tally and the total of 107 points was enough to become series champions by 7 points.
In an historic double celebration Muto and Nakayama earned 15 points in the race giving them 85 points each and the Drivers Championship title.
This was the first time a hybrid machine has won the series championship in the Japanese domestic GT series.
■Comment from the director Kumakura
We had a very hard time this year coping with technical adjustments to the regulations but our team staff did an excellent job. When we saw how close to the limit the unchanged tire was at the pit stop we were quite tense. However we had been expecting the tire condition to a certain extent, and we knew there was no other choice if we were to beat our rivals. It was not in my mind to have another pit stop because of our experience in the 2nd round when we lost the win by the pit stop.
Although we did not win a race during the series, the same model CR-Z machine did win two races and I am very proud to have showed the hybrid machine potential. We became the series champions by consistently earning good results and points, and by maximizing the potential of our machine at each race, even though at times we were unfortunate with the handicap weight system.
I believe it is very important moment for mass production vehicles of the future to have this victory with a hybrid system vehicle where we are investing our efforts in developing technologies and gaining feedback from each race.
I would like to express our appreciation for the fantastic support of all MUGEN and Honda fans.