Lucky to be here for 3rd time!
This year I will drive the NISMO GT-R D-STATION ADVAN GT500 #24 the car I drove in the first 3 rounds of 2015 Super GT
After 2 days at home resting from Le Mans race I flew to Bangkok to attend the 3rd round of Super GT.
We had a long trip from Bangkok to Buriram by van. 6 h with a crazy Thai driver!
On Saturday things looked really promising with very good pace from all 4 NISMO cars on top. Car was fantastic to drive in our Yokohama Tires.
In qualifying things changed completely. Our balance turned to oversteer everywhere making really hard to predict the car on entry of the corners so I ended Q1 in P14 after expecting a Top5! Very disappointing result but I knew it was because of the extremely hight track temperature, over 63 degrees.
The race was another big disappointment as I started the race feeling a great balance car as the tires were getting the optimal temperature but suddenly I lost power in lap 3 making us to retire from the race with a turbo problem.
Our plan for this years 24h of Le Mans was to come, learn and develope for the future.
In qualifying things went Ok for us. I had to push halfway the session in medium compound setting a 3.38.6 I was please with it but also dissapointed as I could get into 37′s in my last pushing lap, until Got a yellow flag at Indianapolis. Then my team mate Tsugio went in soft tires at the end of the session but he had traffic issues and could not improve.
We had to start from the back of LMP cars but Harry, Jann and me were calm to keep an easy pace at the beginning. It was a 24h race and nobody wins it in the first hours.
It was my 5th time at LM but my first start, a lot of responsibility but I just did my job. Drive following Harry’s #22 car and providing the best info we could to our engineers. It felt more a test than a race for us, except passing the LMP2 cars on the straights.
I did 3 stints having some fun, in the first one with Harry in front of me but he pitted one lap before us and once I got out from my pit for fuel, my left hand door opened suddenly! I tried to close it down Mulsanne straight but with belts on I could not reach it so I decided to drive slowly back to pits to not make anymore damage, then I made a full second stint then front tire grip issues came at the end of my 3rd stint but was great to talk to Marc (Gene) after my run and hearing from him that I did exactly what I had to do with a good pace.
Then was the turn for Mark and Tsugio but just after a mega effort by the mechanics fixing some problems, Tsugio lost the front right wheel and he could not bring the car back to the box, so unfortunately we had to retire.
I know Is dissapointing but I have to say I’m really proud of my mechanics, engineers and all the 10 NISMO drivers (9+Gene). I think we all did our best. We learn a lot and we have now a lot of information to get back with a quick car on 2016.
The first free practice was planned to have the most mileage for all 3 drivers but due to some issues and red flags, Matsuda did most of the session and then Mark finish it. So no drive for me until th night quali when I had the chance to complete only 2 time laps. Just enough to do the mandatory night laps.
I felt the car much better than the official test day but we were working on setup the lift&coast system properly. We had some issues making to lose a lot of time in first sector but at the end we found how to make it properly.
My best time was just a 3.45 in the second lap but It was taken as I used a tiny bit more fuel than the regulations limit. Today we have another qualifying sessions but the weather looks very bad so will be tough to improve the times of yesterday.