Japanese GT Championship : Mine Round Seven
10 & 11 November 2001
Michael finishes JGTC season.
The final round of the Japanese GT Championship was completed today in Mine. Michael driving the NO. 22 Nismo Skyline with co-driver Tanaka faced a tough job, with a mathematical chance of winning the championship, which they have featured strongly in all year, they had to win and several contenders had to retire.
Michael started the weekend, qualifying the Nissan Skyline in position four for the rolling start. "I would have preferred to be on the front row, to avoid any problems at the start - as I have to make a break early and set a quick pace, we have used the soft tyres for qualifying and need to make the best of this at the start if we will have any chance at all" Michael commented Saturday evening.
As the field of GT cars rolled round to the start line, Michael was prepared and it looked like he would get the break he needed, unfortunately just before the start line the cars in front slowed a little and Michael had to brake before the line, as he cannot overtake until they have passed the line for the first time. Loosing a few places from the start Michael began to attack, but failed to make a major impression as he was suffering a lack of both straight line speed (probably caused by a very high engine temperature) and grip due to pick up problems with the soft tyres. Completing the minimum laps possible, Michael handed the No. 22 Skyline over to Tanaka, while the Nismo Team switched the car over to the harder compound tyres. Tanaka then completed the race distance brining the car home in 6th Position.
"Today is a real disappointment, we were strong here in testing all week and had qualified well enough to challenge for the win, from the start I had a problem as the car in front lifted just as I was on the power, so I had to lift and brake - loosing all my momentum. It was really over from there, as we had to get in front and use our tyres to the best in the first part of the race. I am not sure why, but the engine ran very hot and we lost power as the race went on and also we had terrible pick up problems with the first set of tyres, Tanaka could lap quicker on the hard tyres, but still it was not quick enough to do anything" Michael commented after the race.