The Sugo track is located just outside of Sendai in the north-east part of Japan, one of the worst hit areas during last years natural disaster. Last year there was a question mark over this race as it was scheduled only a few months after the earthquake. It went ahead and ended up a success with one of the biggest crowds of the year.
For us at Kondo Racing that was one of our strongest performances of 2011, we were running comfortably in third throughout the first stint only to drop to fourth towards the end of the race with major power-loss due to a problem with the air filter.
This year we weren’t as competitive, having a hard time through qualifying and finally starting down in 11th position. In the race it was a case of saving tyres throughout the first stint in order to make it into our refuelling window. We ended up having to pit early and Hiro was set for a longer second stint. Our pace wasn’t good enough to make any progress and my team mate struggled during the last few laps in order to get to the finish with tyres that were well beyond their best.
So far this year our tyre performance seems to be more marginal making it difficult to pick a tyre that allows us to qualify well and still give us a good performance over the longer race-stints.