Fuji Round 2 race started out wet with heavy rain in the free practice session, to the point where it was too dangerous to run. I did a few laps at the halfway point but as soon as there was a red flag (and there was a few) the track got flooded again and it was aqua plaining everywhere. As the qualifying approached, the rain stopped and the session started wet but with less standing water.
Most teams opted for wet tyres and some for intermediates. We went for the full wet tyre as the temperature was low and it didn’t look like it was going to dry much during this 15 minute session. Early on I was following Michael Krumm in the #23 NISMO and as I started my first attack he returned to the pits. I eventually found out he’d been called by his team as they had noticed that some of the other drivers on intermediates were posting faster sector times. We stayed out and the result was a 13th position with a lap that felt good but couldn’t compete with an intermediate attack.
This race was the first of the two longer distance races that we have during the season at 500km. That means three stints and two driver changes. I was to do the longer middle stint and therefore Hiro started the race. It was a really confusing race as it started to rain during the formation which led to a delayed start and everyone pitting to change tires before the race got underway. We had a good stop and had already made up a few positions by the time Hiro had returned to the track following the safety car. Unfortunately when the race finally got underway, he was tapped into a spin and had to start all over again.
I eventually took over at the first stop and at this point the track was dry and the way the race had played out everyone were on different strategies depending on what they had anticipated with regards to the weather. I moved up the order gaining two positions during my stint and neared the end when one of the GT300 cars had a major accident on the main straight. There was a safety car period and shortly after the restart it was time for me to pit again. But just as I received the confirmation to pit, I picked up a puncture at the end of the main straight. As I was trying to get back to the pits the tyre burst and ripped the right rear bodywork off which meant we had to stop for repairs.
Hiro eventually made it back out but at that point we had to treat the final stint as testing as we were already too many laps down on the leaders.