Preview – Super GT 2010 Round 4 at the Sepang International Circuit

Last year’s winner at Sepang, the HASEMI TOMICA EBBRO GT-R driven by Hironobu Yasuda and Ronnie Quintarelli.

The Super GT Series heads to Malaysia for the 4th round of the championship in what will be the toughest race in the Super GT calendar. The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is famous for two things, the unbearable scorching heat and the torrential monsoon rain.

Drivers will have to be at their best physical condition to survive the heat, because as demonstrated in the past some drivers suffered badly from dehydration and not making it to the end of the race. The other factor is the torrential downpour. Here when it rains, it rains like no other part of the world. Predicting any rainfall is merely a guesswork and many have been caught off guard, just like McLaren and Ferrari found out earlier in qualifying during the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.

In the battle between Honda, Nissan and Lexus, a pattern is beginning to emerge after 3 rounds of the championship in the GT500 Class. Although statistics showed that each manufacturer have a win each, it doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lexus SC430 is clearly the class of the field right now, conquering the top 4 standings in the driver’s championship standings.

Although the Lexus SC430 made its debut in 2006, it still managed to fend off the challenges of the newer Nissan GT-R and Honda HSV-010.

Their nearest challenger is Honda with the Weider HSV-010 of Takashi Kogure and Loic Duval in 5th, some 20 points behind the leader, defending champion PETRONAS TOM’S SC430 of Juichi Wakisaka and Andre Lottere. Nissan’s main challenger, the GT-R failed to live up to expectations despite winning the opening round in Suzuka with the HIS ADVAN KONDO GT-R.

Honda’s new challenger, the HSV-010.

When Honda launched the highly anticipated HSV-010 to replace the title winning NSX, it brought the series a lot of attention. In its debut, the HSV-010 of Team Weider grabbed pole but crashed out of the race after colliding with the ARTA HSV-010 heading into the 1st turn. The early part of the race saw several cars crash or run off the course. From 10th place on the grid, the HIS Advan Kondo GT-R slowly made its way through the tricky condition and took the lead on lap 25 and never looked back to record its impressive first win of the season.

The Weider HSV-010 in a class of its own in Okayama.

Then the series headed to Okayama for the 2nd round of the championship. This time the Weider HSV-010 stamped its authority by taking pole position and stormed to victory to deliver the HSV-010′s maiden win. But Lexus’ resurgence was only just beginning as they swept the two remaining podium places.

The beginning of Lexus domination. The MJ KRAFT Lexus SC430 leads the way into the 1st turn at the Fuji International Speedway.

Round 3 of the championship at Fuji saw the top 3 qualifying spots occupied by the SC430. What’s more impressive is the manner they did it, with a weight handicap more than their closest rivals in the championship. While the weight handicap clearly hampered the speed of the leading GTRs and HSV-010s, the Lexus SC430 of MJ KRAFT, PETRONAS TOM’S, and ENEOS dominated the Fuji 400km with an impressive display by sweeping all the podium places and the ZENT CERUMO completed a perfect weekend for Lexus by finishing 4th.

But the SIC always favours the GT-R. It won every race held here since its debut 2 years ago, and is still the favourite to take the win. The track layout doesn’t suit the SC430, as proven from the previous years when they struggled for pace in the race while how the HSV-010 will fare is a little bit of an unknown factor. The MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (above) of Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer is the most underperforming pair so far, sitting 2nd last in the driver’s championship standings. But with a weight handicap of only 6 kg, they should be in a strong contention for the win, considering that the top three SC430s in the drivers championship standings has to start the race with a weight handicap of more than 60 kg.

In hindsight, the SIC is seen as a level playing field for all the cars. The SC430, HSV-010 and GT-R all have an equal chance to fight for victory, but come race day, only one will be on the top step of podium.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bちゃん(Y.Shirane), Masaaki Kitagawa. Masaaki Kitagawa said: 同じく今シーズン第4戦までのプレビューも掲載。こちらには私の写真も^^ #supergt [...]

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