Getting to Fuji-Speedway.
As Anthony and I departed Nagano at 5am on race day, we couldn’t help but express our concerns about the approaching ‘super typhoon 11’ and it’s potential to crap all over our photo session at Fuji Speedway that day. Sure enough as we were driving through the mountains, 2 hours out from Fuji, we saw that the Typhoon was already causing drivers problems. A Mazda RX-8 had hit the barrier in horrendous conditions and spun down the motorway. Not too much further along, another confusing scene confronted us. A Bedford van was on its roof in the left hand lane outside Otsuki. Seemingly inexplicable, the van was undamaged (aside from the compacted roof) and had turned it’s self over completely. So, needless to say, things were looking grim for our race… and it was still only 7am – with the worst of the weather forecast for 3pm which was the race’s scheduled start time.
We arrived at the speedway at around 10am and as we pulled into the car park, we (mostly me) had already lost our cool over our excitement. A glorious scenery lay in every direction. The car park was full of JDMs, exotic super cars and luxury cars from around the world. So much so, that it was pretty common to find Ferraris or Nissan GT-Rs lined up next to each other and the car parks around the speed way alone seemed to have enough to keep us entertained for hours.
Above: The car park was loaded with car-gasms. 2 R34s sit next to a R32 GT-R.
Japanese Super GT: Races on!
The rain continued all the way into the gate of the speedway. It continued as we went to join the race queens and the fans assembled in front of the stands. By the time we got there, it seemed we had missed one of the Vitz (aka Toyota Yaris) races. This was actually gold to our ears, because it meant races were on and well… lets be honest. Vitz. Who really comes to see the Yaris race. We made our way to the back hairpin and set up the cameras. Just as we were focusing the cameras, the limited GT-Rs came roaring into our view finder.
Below: Restricted GT-Rs battle it out in the final of the 8 lap mini series.
The 8 laps ended too soon, but it meant that we could get into the pit lanes to check out the main show pieces. The 500 series machines. As we perused the pit lane, we photographed the race queens and the millions of dollars worth of super car. An Aston Martin Vantage, Ferrari F430s, Lambourghini Gallardos, a McLaren mp4 and Mercedes SLs were lined up next to their Japanese counterparts. The Japanese machines consisted of Nissan GT-Rs, Lexus LFAs, a Subaru BRZ and the recently re-birthed Honda NSX.
Below: McLaren mp4 12c
CCJ – Challenge Cup Japan
The CCJ race series was another 8 lap race featuring some of Europe’s finest super cars. The difference between the Europeans competing in the GT500 and these Ferraris is that in the CCJ series, they have very strict modification rules. For Ferrari and Porsche fans, this had plenty to offer – 911s and 458s were the main show piece, but there were F330s, a Testarossa and an Aston Martin db9. This was a rather uneventful affair, and predictably, a 458 won the race with a time 15’53.415 to complete the 8 Laps.
Above: Ferrari 458s fight for first place down the main straight.
The main event of the Japanese Super GT is the 500 series. The cars we photographed earlier in the pits. The cars ran 3 or 4 warm up laps and the excitement built up. Anthony and I had gone down to the first corner in hope of catching some accidents, and we could hear the announcer from the main stand, trying to hype up the soggy fans. This was followed by screaming engines, as the race apparently had been started with a rolling start. We watched the first two laps from the first corner the and then proceeded to the pit roof for some better photo opportunities. As the race proceeded, the rain and wind threatened as we continued to look for good vantage points around the course. Eventually, in the 22nd lap, the typhoon’s wrath finally showed. We were out in the paddock when it hit and we had to gap 500 meters to shelter.
Above: The B-Max Nissan GTR powers through the worst of the typhoon.
Like walking under a water fall, within seconds we were saturated. Our boots squelched as we retreated to the underpass for refuge. Meanwhile the cars ran about 4 or 5 laps under the safety car and then, inevitably, the race was put on hold. Entrenched in the main straight underpass, with wet clothes and tired legs, we felt like soldiers hiding from a bomb raid. Thankfully, the worst passed and we were glad we stuck it out and stayed, as the race commenced after 20 minutes or so.
With daylight threatening to give up on the remaining die hard race fans, the rain was deemed light enough to continue the race. We spent the 2nd half of the race pretty exhausted from battling the rain and wind all day, but never the less we persevered and walked a lap of the track, stopping for photos at each corner.
As we were busy taking photos most of the time, it was difficult for us to keep track of the leaders and overtaking moves. From the little we did notice, The Subaru BRZ seemed to struggle comparatively while the NSXs looked strong, never seemingly to miss a line, or lose a position. This was evident at the end, as 2 of the prototype NSXs finished on the podium.
This was a very worthwhile day out for any race fan. There wasn’t a moment when we were bored, with race queens, exotic cars, super tuned Japanese cars and plenty of showcases available. We were always moving somewhere, to see something awesome.
Below: The 5th round race winner
Fastest Lap: Zent Cerumo Lexus RC F- 1’39.125
Race Winner: Weider Modulo Honda NSX
Drivers: Naoki Yamamoto and Frederic Makowiecki