Bjorn Wirdheim and the GAINER team took their DIXCEL Mercedes AMG GT3 to a podium position finishing 3rd overall in Round 3 of the Super GT Championship at Sepang in Malaysia. The result means they maintain the Championship lead by two points.
With 50kg of handicap weight following their victory in Round 1 and 6th position in Round 2 it was always going to be hard to qualify well at Sepang. Bjorn’s teammate Kazuyuki Hiranaka took the car through to Q2 and Bjorn took over qualifying the car in 7th position.
“Qualifying so well surprised us as we seemed off the pace in the free practice session. The track had been very green in the morning and as it rubbered in for the afternoon qualifying our Dunlop tyres gained a lot of performance and we were able to better our laptimes by over 3 seconds. Kazuyuki was easily within the top-13 that went on to Q2 and even though I had to abort my first attack due to traffic we could still finish the session in 7th,” said Bjorn.
Race conditions were hot and humid as usual in Malaysia with air temperature at 33 degrees celsius and track temperature at 42. As everyone has to start on their qualifying tyres, Bjorn was on a softer set that was only likely to last until the earliest pit window.
“I wasn’t able to attack at the start the way I would have liked as the driver in front of me reacted very slowly when the race got underway. With a rolling start like this you’re not allowed to overtake before the start line and as a result I lost one position in the first lap. During the first 10 laps I was clearly quicker than the cars in front of me but the added handicap weight we were carrying made it difficult to get into a position to attack,”
“My tyres held up surprisingly well and when the cars in front started to struggle for traction due to tyre degradation I was able to take advantage and move up from 8th to 5th. The gap to 4th was over 15 seconds at that point but the performance of my Dunlop tyre was very good and consistent and allowed me to stay out way beyond our planned pit window,”
“When I pitted on lap 29 out of 54 I had reduced the gap to the 4th position car by almost 13 seconds and came in for my pitstop right behind him. Our stop wasn’t perfect and once Kazuyuki got back on the track we were 9 seconds behind again. But Kazu chased him down in only a few laps and grabbed the final podium position.”
“3rd was the best we could have hoped for, the two Honda CR-Z that finished in front are built to different regulations compared to our GT3 car. Even though our performance was incredibly strong they were still 21 seconds in front. They are likely to get an added handicap for the next round as we’re currently not able to compete with them. Still, this result was better than expected with a strong performance from the GAINER team and Dunlop and very positive for the remainder of the Championship.”
The next round of the 2013 Super GT Championship takes place at Sugo in Japan on the 28th of July.
2013 Super GT Round 3 Sepang – Highlights