It’s Super GT season in Malaysia again, as the premier Japanese “box car” series arrives at Sepang for their hottest race of the year. We figure that many attend the annual Sepang event more for the lovely Japanese race queens than the race action itself, but even so, people still need a team to support.
For those without an alliance, let us suggest Lexus Team Petronas Tom’s for two reasons – despite the higher profile of some other outfits, Tom’s is the team to beat (2009 GT500 driver and team champions), and you will be in good company – Petronas has been backing the team since 2008.
Tom’s two drivers, Juichi Wakisaka and Andre Lotterer, visited Galeri Petronas KLCC this morning to join children aged 8-12 in a school holiday art workshop. Both wheelmen lent their hands in creating artwork from stencils of their Lexus SC430 race car and Petronas’ Super Taikyu BMW Z4 M. During “recess” we got hold of the top driver pairing in Super GT for a few quick questions.
German driver Lotterer was tired, and understandably so, as he’s still jetlagged after flying out of Le Mans, where the 29-year old was part of Audi’s successful podium conquering outing. There, Lotterer and teammates Benoit Treluyer (also a Super GT driver) and Marcel Fassler finished second. On fancied Peugeot’s self destruction at Le Mans, he admitted that they were fast, but cheekily added that “there’s only so much power metal can take”.
On the differences between last year’s GT500 championship winning car and the 2010 machine, Lotterer revealed that changes include a new front shape (bottom wing), improved aerodynamics, new under hood mount and suspension geometry plus a new air intake system. It’s a better all round set up, and the car is more consistent in grip, he said.
However, a win at Sepang this weekend would be a tough ask for Petronas Tom’s. Few factors contribute to this. First, the team is leading both driver and team standings at present, and so will carry the heaviest weight penalty in the field at 68 kg (34 points X 2 kg). Also, the Nissan GT-R has a better recent record at Sepang, winning the last two races here; the Nissans also have a small air-conditioner to combat heat so the drivers are more comfortable. Juichi Wakisaka “feels bad” for Petronas for not being able to see the team win here, but reckons that they’re looking good to retain the championship.
What about Honda’s fierce looking HSV-010 car? Lotterer isn’t impressed. “I don’t think it’s the best car, because it’s not a car that can win at all places,” he said. It was also pointed out to this writer that the high downforce, high drag, but low top speed Honda is said to be better on tighter, more technical circuits, but since Sepang has that and long straights as well, it’ll be interesting to see how they perform.
Here’s to a great weekend of hot Japanese action!