Bjorn Wirdheim and the GAINER team followed up their 3rd place finish in the first round of the 2014 Super GT Championship with a 2nd place finish in round 2 at Fuji Speedway.
The team struggled with gearbox issues throughout the weekend preventing them from taking part in Qualifying 2 which led to a 13th starting position for the 500km race. Bjorn drove the first stint and moved from 13th to 6th during the first 19 laps and excellent pitwork and strategy from the team during the first stop which coincided with a safety car period meant that the team advanced into 2nd position already in the first half of the race.
“We developed a gearbox issue already in free practice and despite the teams best effort to fix the problem it still prevented us from taking part in Q2. We had already made it safely through Q1 and were well within the top-13 fastest that go through to Q2. But I got stuck in neutral on my in-lap at the end of Q1 and as a result we had to sit out Q2 and were forced to start the race in 13th position,” said Bjorn.
“I knew I had to be really aggressive throughout the first stint in order to move up as quickly as possible before the leaders got too far ahead if we were going to have a chance of a result. Our pace was really good initially and by the end of the first stint we were already in 6th. I knew that I could easily move up another 3 positions so the feeling was really positive,”
“My teammate Hiranaka took over for the middle stint and did a good job but was unfortunately spun around by one of the GT500 cars. We lost several seconds and dropped behind the #4 BMW as a result. Shortly afterwards he reported a problem with the gearbox again with a longer delay in the timing of the up-shifts,”
“I took over for the final stint with 44 laps remaining and lost another 10 seconds as I wasn’t able to get the car in gear at the end of the pitstop. At this point the gearbox had gone into fail safe mode which caused us a few problems. I got out in third and moved up a position when the #0 Honda ran out of rear tyres. I was chasing down the #4 leader and we had a huge fight the last 20 laps. I passed him twice but both my brakes and tyres were finished at that point and he was able to get me back straight away,”
“It was one of the most exciting races of my career, and I loved every second of it. Had it not been for the gearbox issues we suffered from throughout the weekend we definitely had the potential to win which is very positive. We’ve had a very strong start to our championship, better than last year if you look at the first two rounds. Now we have to regroup for Round 3 at Autopolis and make sure that we have resolved the mechanical problems we struggled with this weekend.”
Round 3 of the Super GT Championship is held at Autopolis on the 1st of June.