Early morning at Sepang International Circuit saw a few spectators already at the grandstands. Most were with their camera gear while others came looking their best as anime characters.
Tsuchiya-san arrived around 9am and got straight to work. The ARTA team eventually finished 12th in GT500 and 9th in GT300.
That Sunday morning meant no sleeping in or any breakfast in bed. Instead, hard work starts early.
Now, where have I seen these two lovely ladies before?
SuperGT has a variety of attractions; the main two would be the GT racers and the other more feminine side to the SuperGT series are the GT Queens.
This is Marina Mori from Saitama, Japan. This 22-year old lass is new to the racequeen gig, plays the piano and is into sports (volleyball). Miss Mori is the official GT Queen of the Team Kunimitsu Raybrig GT500.
When you have the GT Queens posing, the photographers will definitely be there to snap them up (using their cameras of course).
As we were busy taking photos of GT racers and queens, Tsuchiya-san headed to the back of the pits for a quick ciggie break.
Team TAISAN Endless had a quartet of GT Queens. Ayumi Hirasawa, Akari Suzukawa, Mina Aida and Takana Honda were happy to pose for the photographers while the team’s crew were hard at work preparing their Porsche 911 driven by Kyosuke Mineo and Naoki Yokomizo.
The Hankook KTR team had South Korea’s largest tyre maker as their main sponsor with drivers, former GT500 champion Masami Kageyama and Tomonobu Fujii finishing the Sepang race at top podium with their Porsche 911 in the GT300 class. In the pits, they had Maya Sano from Kagawa, Japan and Ju Da Ha from Seoul, Korea as their GT Queens.
At the Goodsmile pits of the GSR&Studie with TeamUKYO, two BMW Z4GT3 were being prepped. The number ’0′ car took last year’s championship with three top podium finishes and now sports the image of the vocaloid character ‘Hatsune Miku’ while car number ’4′ has the Hatsune Miku game character as part of its liveries. the 2012 cars have increased to 67mm in length and 85mm in width while having rubber donuts with the size of 280/650R18 (fronts) and 300/680R18 (rears).
GSR ProjectMirai BMW car number ’4′ was driven last weekend by 2011 GT300 champion Taku Bamba and Masahiro Sasaki.
The GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW car number ’0′ is driven by 2011 GT300 champion and popular driver, Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka. BMW AG provided engineering support to the team as part of a strenghtened partnership aiming for back-to-back titles.
Team GAINER sucre changed to the FIA GT3 spec Audi R8 LMS Ultra racer after running with Ferraris in previous years. Driven by Tetsuya Tanaka and Katsuyuki Hiranaka, they are the only ones on the grid to be running on Dunlop tyres. Reina Fuchiwaki from Kanagawa posed for the photographers while handing out GAINER stickers to the happy punters.
Cyndie Allemann, the Swiss lady racer who had competed in the Le Mans 24-hour race, drove for Hitotsuyama Racing piloting the ZENT Audi R8 LMS with main driver Akihiro Tsuzuki. She’s the first woman to participate in GT racing since Kumi Sato in 2001 and the first since the start of SuperGT.
Team JLOC had three cars competing on the GT300 grid; Verity BOMEX Lamborghini Gallardo RG3 car number ’86′ and JLOC Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 car number ’87′ and MonePa Lamborghini GT3 car number ’88′. The Verity BOMEX car is a FIA GT2 spec racer driven by Junichiro Yamashita and the first Japanese driver to finish top ten in Indy500, Hideshi Matsuda.
Emblazoned on both driver’s racing suits is Lamborghini’s signature bull emblem. Here, Junichiro Yamashita prepares to replace Hideshi Matsuda in a mock pitstop, while being watched closely by the spectators.
As Hideshi Matsuda straps Junichiro Yamashita into the car, mechanics frantically replaces the tyres on all four corners. You don’t see this often in Formula One, where the pitstop demonstration is done at the actual pits just before a race. Such is the closeness/openess of the SuperGT with its fans.
In SuperGT Rd3 Sepang, Team ThunderAsia Racing got a wild card entry with the Mosler MT900M driven by Malaysian driver, Fairuz Fauzy and Hiroki Yoshida from Japan.
Tsuchiya-san is one of the most recognizable figures at SuperGT. His friendly persona was a hit with the fans, happily engaging in limited English conversations as well as autograph signings.
If not busy snapping pictures, the media people were busy uploading and updating their websites at the Media Centre. Having on-track live feed helped out a lot too.
There was a loud chorus of cheers as the GT Queens made it out onto the track.
As the girls take position according to their own teams, the GT racers exit the pitlane to rendezvous with them at the starting grid.
As the cars arrived on grid…
…there is a stark contrast between the drivers and crew with the GT Queens; one wearing revealing outfits while the others were wrapped without any skin showing. Everybody regardless of what they were wearing would definitely be baking under the hot Malaysian weather.
Once the cars are lined up on the grid, the floodgates opened to let the media, pit crew members as well as spectators onto the track. This casual mingling of the team with the public really summed up the atmosphere at SuperGT. This is certainly an experience that should not be missed.
Stay tuned for more as we take on the gridwalk!
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