SUPER GT 2023 Round 7 at Autopolis: No Series Points for Three Races in a Row
On 14-15 October, Igor Omura Fraga competed in Round 7 (450 km race) of the Super GT series at the Autopolis International Racing Course located in Oita with his teammate Yuga Furutani for ANEST IWATA Racing with Arnage.
One month break away from real world circuits
Igor Fraga saw his best finish this season last race at Round 6 of the Super GT series, placing 7th. There was a month interval before Round 7, and he spent time away from the real circuit.
“I train normally but if there are days where I’m not feeling up to it, I go bouldering. I started bouldering after being taught by a Polyphony Digital staff member last year in Japan, but it’s fun! I let out my stress bouldering and then go back to my standard training routine.
“Also, the Honda Racing eMS 2023 Time Attack Challenge 2023 is being held on Gran Turismo 7 [An in-game event that ran until 29 October], so I was doing time attacks on the Nürburgring. Before going to Autopolis, I was 2nd place in the Global Rankings. Nürburgring is a track that I love. I drive 2-3 hours a day, about 500 km. Of course not continuously though, I take a break after driving an hour and a half, then do something else, and then drive another hour and a half in the late afternoon, something like that.”
Testing on a simulator
Meanwhile, Igor was also driving on the simulator owned by TCD (Toyota Customizing and Development) for the third time this season to train for the real race.
In the Super GT, the opportunity for circuit drive testing is limited. Therefore practicing on high performance simulators is important for both the driver and the team.
“On a simulator it doesn’t take time to change settings. Compared to testing on a real car, you can try a lot of things in a limited amount of time. Also in a real car the tyre condition continues to change due to wear and other factors but on a simulator you can make those conditions constant. That makes it possible to understand the differences made by the settings, and has the advantage of making it easier to analyse what was improved. This time I drove at Autopolis where Round 7 is being held, and I have a feeling we were able to find a hint to alleviating the lack of feel of the front grip we had been plagued with until now.”
Autopolis International Racing Course and tyre strategy
Mount Aso is a well known active volcano in the Kyushu region, and the Autopolis International Racing Course positioned to the Northwest of the volcano is a technical track with many ups and downs, making it very hard on tyres.
In the Super GT for a 450 km race, there is a regulation that limits the number of tyres you can use per race to a maximum of six sets or 24. The team must predict the weekend conditions of the race following this rule, and deciding on the characteristics of the tyres that will be used.
This time the team brought three sets of soft and three sets of hard tyres. However, on the race weekend the Autopolis was covered in cloudy skies, and the team’s prediction of the optimum tyres was a little off.
Struggling in qualifying due to surface temperatures and tyres
Igor said he already expected a hard time on the track as he started to drive in the official practice, on Saturday, 14 October. “Both the soft and hard tyres didn’t match the range of surface temperatures we were seeing, and did not function well in the practice drives. I felt we would be at best around 15th place even if things went well.”
In the Super GT, you are required to start the final race with the tyres you used in qualifying. That means if you used soft tyres just focusing on the qualifier, it could limit your strategy in the final race. Knowing this, the team selected hard tyres for the Q1 qualifying session in the afternoon, and sent in Igor.
“Just before qualifying, the sun came out a little bit and the surface temperatures went up. This was very lucky for the tyres we had but I was still nervous whether we would be able to set a good time. But once running, the tyres warmed up fairly well, and the time attack came together well.”
Fraga was 5th fastest in qualifying out of 25 cars in the GT300 class, successfully passing Q1. However the temperatures dropped again after this, and Yuga Furutani who did the Q2 qualifier could not improve his lap times, placing them 15th on the starting grid.
Struggling to warm up tyres but gradually improving position
For the final race the team prayed that ambient and surface temperatures would go up. However, the weather was still cloudy on the day of the Final, with low surface temperatures, and Yuga Furutani - who started the race on hard tyres - struggled to warm them. He ended up dropping positions right after the start of the race, but he pushed on and gradually came back up, and after 28 laps passed the car to Igor.
Igor makes good laps and time but not enough to secure series points
Igor, who drove the latter half of the race, hit lap times equal to the top group of the GT300, but ultimately ran out of time receiving the chequered flag in 11th place. Unfortunately, they missed the position needed to acquire series points three races in a row.
“It was unfortunate that at Autopolis the temperatures dropped much more than we expected and the tire strategy was all off. But I was clearly faster than some of the cars driving in the front, and I was able to drive better than I had expected, but it was not enough to get up to the top positions. That’s racing but it’s unfortunate. We only have the last race left, so I’ll try to finish the season in good form.”
Next Up: 3-4 November, Super GT Rd.8 at Motegi
The next Super GT race for Igor is on 3-4 November, the 8th and final round of the season. The stage is set at the Mobility Resort Motegi in the Tochigi prefecture. Igor’s Super GT 2023 season is coming to a close, tune in to the last battle on the track!
SUPER GT 2023 Round 7 at Autopolis: Highlights
You can follow all of Igor's racing in the 2023 Super GT Championship (ANEST IWATA Racing with Arnage) on the 'Igor Fraga Report' page.