Getting An Itch For Racing At The 4 Hours Of Fuji


On The Grid

The issue with occasions just like the GP1 4 Hours of Fuji, is that it makes me need to get my very own automotive out on observe for a superb thrashing.

OK, so it’s not precisely an issue, however extra of a prod of motivation to get Undertaking GC8 track-ready. My WRX is maybe not all that well-suited to the sweeping bends of Fuji Speedway, however Tsukuba is certainly within the crosshairs.

Fuji Speedway is extra of a GT circuit, and it’s the place I attended the ultimate bout of the 4 Hours of Fuji pro-am endurance race a few weekends again.

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I used to be invited by Hiro-san, proprietor of ACR Aston Martin, who focuses on making carbon fiber physique kits. He was out testing some new bits and performing some PR photoshoots along with his Vantage N24.

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After qualifying Hiro-san was first in school, which was the NA Tremendous class for over 2.5L, over 300PS, and slick or radial tyre-equipped vehicles. The noise this Aston makes at full throttle by way of the valleys and alongside the straights of Fuji Speedway is completely wonderful.

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The grid for this 4-hour race was eclectic combine, largely GT vehicles however with just a few Hondas, Mitsubishis and Subarus thrown in for good measure. It simply goes to point out, you’ll be able to engineer something to go round any circuit in case you put your thoughts to it.

I attempted to not look straight on the M3, but it surely did have a unusually commanding presence…

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This canary yellow Levin was a spotlight.

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With drivers tucked away of their oven-like cabins and crew posing accomplished, the grid was cleared in time for a late begin. I’m undecided I might bear 4 hours in a race swimsuit and helmet, however the drivers didn’t appear too fazed. The groups had been fairly pumped too.

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This was my cue to search out some good trackside vantage factors. I’d by no means really shot a race at Fuji Speedway earlier than this, however the whole observe is fairly open so discovering a spot was comparatively straightforward.

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As I crossed from one facet of the circuit to the opposite, I walked by way of the pits to see the groups make changes to their vehicles earlier than they hit the tarmac once more. I used to be anticipating extra pit motion, à la  F1, however this actually wasn’t any type of severe competitors.

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The GP1 4 Hours of Fuji is a race hosted by Japan Racing Service, and is meant for privateers {and professional} racers alike to return and check their machines and hone their driving expertise. It’s additionally a terrific place to get some PR photographs or movies for sponsors and different promotions.

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Amongst the amateurs and semi-pros, there have been a few large weapons stretching their legs on today. Audi Japan had just a few of its privateer groups operating assessments on their GT300 and Tremendous Taikyu vehicles.

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Right here’s an RS3 LMS TCR, offered by Audi as an entire competition-ready automotive designed for customer-based racing. This one is owned by an area dealership, and I can solely guess that it was being utilized by a buyer for a personal race day.

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It’s a terrific resolution for individuals who need a racing expertise, however don’t need to preserve and retailer a automotive. I’m certain all of it comes with a premium price ticket, although.

Within the subsequent storage had been a few machines on one other stage.

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That is certainly one of two Audi R8 LMS vehicles that make up Group Hitotsuyama – an Audi Japan-sponsored crew since 2014. However really, crew founder Mikio Hitotsuyama has been racing in Japan since 1990.

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He started in an M3 within the All Japan Touring Automotive Championship, earlier than progressing to a GT300 machine after which on to the GT500 class in a McLaren F1 GTR. Hitotsuyama-san has additionally been behind the wheel of a Ferrari 550 Maranello, an Aston Martin DBR9, 997 Porsche GT3 RSR and the extremely cool Zytek 05S, a modified Le Mans automotive initially constructed by Reynard Motorsport.

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The R8 LMS solely ran just a few laps, spending most of its time sitting up on air jacks present process some laptop computer prognosis. All of it seemed very severe.

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Shintaro Kawabata, in the meantime, was on the observe for the complete 4 hours of racing. Lap after lap, this Tremendous GT automotive completely dominated. In truth, I’m fairly certain it was lapping most vehicles, which isn’t stunning given the NA V10 pushes out 585bhp by way of its air pressure-controlled 6-speed transmission.

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I get the sensation that Kawabata-san is a little bit of a famous person for the crew, in all probability as a result of he introduced them a long-awaited victory in 2020 throughout Spherical 6 of that yr’s Tremendous GT300 championship.

That’s the glory that groups like Hitotsuyama are striving to attain, and days like this are good for getting some endurance follow in.

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Although it was unbearably scorching and humid, I’m glad I made the journey all the way down to Fuji Speedway. Not simply because it was improbable to see such a various bunch of drivers and vehicles doing what they love, but additionally as a result of it was a protracted overdue reminder to get my very own automotive on the circuit. In spite of everything, that’s what it was designed to do.

As with all motorsport occasion, the vehicles that individuals drive to the occasions are at all times price a glance, so I’ve included a fast stroll round of the carpark to your enjoyment under, plus some extra photographs from the occasion itself.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_
tobythyer.co.uk

Gallery

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