It’s hard to believe that we’re now over half way through my debut season racing in Super GT - where did the time go?!
I’m still loving being over here in Japan, and feel incredibly proud and privileged to be part of the country’s premier racing series. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, but I’m really pleased with the progress we’re making as a team, and especially with my progress and growth personally as a driver. I feel much more involved in the technical development, feedback and set-up of the car now, which is all very positive and important for my future.
As ever, between races I have been working hard off the track to further my progression on it. Continuing to work with the team, building my physical and mental strength and developing vital connections on my journey to help drive the future of motorsport.
Right now, though, all my attention is focused on the highly anticipated next round of the series, the prestigious Suzuka 1000km next weekend. This will obviously be my first-time competing in the event, and I’m super-excited to be part of such an internationally renowned race. Super GT is massively supported here in Japan, but the Suzuka 1000km is on a whole new level. It really is the ultimate standout, showcase event for the series - kind of like Monaco is in Formula 1 and the Indy 500 is for IndyCar.
In fact, it’s such a big event that 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button is also taking part, racing in the GT500 class. He’s a long-time fan of the Super GT series, and, now that’s he’s retired, is thrilled to be able to join in the challenge! It’s going to be an awesome experience lining up on the grid alongside a driver I watched reach the pinnacle of motorsport when I was a teenager.
Being our longest race by some distance, double what we did at Fuji earlier in the season, Suzuka brings a lot of unique challenges. Team strategy is going to hold extra importance, with a lot more to coordinate, especially as our team dynamic is changing. Jenson’s fellow ex-F1 driver, Christian Klein, is joining us at Taisan SARD, and I’m particularly looking forward to working with and learning from him throughout the weekend.
We’ll be figuring out the format of our time in the car during the practice and briefing, but we must make a minimum of five pit stops during this race. I like the fact that we’ll have so many stops, as the single driver change often puts a lot of pressure on the whole team. Having multiple stops gives a little more scope to balance out lost and gained time, and to improve technique. Tyre choice will also be crucial for the race, as we have hard and medium hard compounds to choose from. Again, we’ll be taking our insights from practice, then brainstorming together to find the best option. Unlike many motorsport categories these days, we don’t have to run both compounds during the race, which makes the decision even more important to get right.
Although I obviously haven’t driven in the Suzuka 1000km before, I feel competing in the Bathurst 12-hour race at the beginning of the year has given me valuable experience and confidence going into this event. And, like Bathurst, Suzuka is the perfect place to hold such a big event. It’s an amazing circuit to drive and has so much to offer; high-speed sections, technical areas and passing opportunities. It’s certainly going to be an eventful experience for us all and I genuinely can’t wait to get out on the track!
We’re keeping a close eye on the weather at the moment, as it’s been unseasonably wet here for the past two weeks. We even had to cancel a planned hike up Mount Fuji during my build up work for the race, which was a big disappointment. So, fingers crossed the Japanese summer returns in time for Suzuka, and that I get to see the view from the top of Fuji one day.
The big race is only a week away now guys, so I hope you’ll grab extra provisions, and a perhaps cushion, to join me on what is going to be a long, but very exciting journey!