It was a dressed rehearsal for Cyndie Allemann this weekend as she took part of the Japanese Super GT Series pre-season official test at Okayama International Circuit.
Okayama, Japan, March 18, 2012 – After signing a contract for an Audi R8 LMS driving seat with Hitotsuyama Racing last month, it was the first chance for the motor racing star from Switzerland to taste the Super GT experience, and meet competitors and fans alike.
I did pass on my first try and I’m therefore qualified for the series, so it was positive.
“First weekend, first tests in Super GT. First of all, it was all about starting to really work with the team and to discover the series – in particular the GT500 cars on track, as sharing the track with those can be a bit stressful as they are much faster than us (the GT300) on the straight line. I feel like I’m back at Le Mans having to manage the traffic while at the same time focusing on my driving and on-track performances. For the next race, not loosing too much time in traffic will be a big challenge.”
“Otherwise, discovering the paddock was impressive. The cars are amazing and now I’m even more looking forward to this whole season – for me, it’s positive all the way. The Japanese fans who followed me this weekend gave me a lot of support and it’s great to see that a race car driver coming from Switzerland can have a lot of success in another country, especially in Japan.”
Even more important, Cyndie still had to pass the very strict Super GT rookie test – a necessary step to be allowed to race in the prestigious series. She passed this test on her very first attempt, despite the difficult and treacherous weather conditions, clocking the mandatory ten laps all faster than a minimum set time.
“The main thing for me to remember this weekend was the rookie test. Needless to say that there was some pressure, as it was under difficult conditions with sometimes rain, sometimes sun and sometimes greasy track conditions. In addition, the rookie test is fairly strict, as we must make good lap times and if we’re too far off the pole time, or if we spin or go off the track, we don’t pass the test. So I must admit that with the difficult conditions, my stress level was a bit on the high side. But I did pass on my first try and I’m therefore qualified for the series, so it was positive.”
More work ahead
The celebrations were very short for the hard-working Swiss as she spent the rest of the weekend learning the twisty Okayama track, as well as getting to know her new Audi R8 LMS. On Sunday, she was joined by her new teammate Akihiro Tsuzuki for further tests and making even more laps on the Okayama International Circuit, in prevision for the opening round of the Super GT Series in two weeks at the same track.
“In general, my test program went well and I’m progressively getting better – my experience in GT racing is not really big, after all. In addition, it was a new team for me, as well as a new car and a new track, so I took it one step at a time in order to get better track performance. With my teammate Aki, I was able to do some good testing, with tires tests and see the difference between the different types of compounds – that was very interesting, incidentally, as I didn’t think that there was that many differences.”
“In terms of performances, I reached all the goals that I set, but it is clear that there is still a lot of work before getting to the top-3. Little by little, I’m starting to understand the car, but we must still get better to find the right setups on the R8 LMS, because we still have some understeer issues. But all in all, those tests have been quite positive to prepare the first race of the season in two weeks.”
About Cyndie Allemann
Cyndie Allemann: a World class driver, top athlete and brand ambassador. Always a fan favorite, whether in Europe, in the USA and soon in Japan, 25 years old Cyndie Allemann was literally born for speed.
Her 18-year racing career has seen her compete at the highest levels in many different series and tracks around the World: karting (winning the European junior title when she was only thirteen), open-wheel (EuroF3, Indy Lights, etc.), GT (FIA-GT1 World Championship) and endurance racing (GT1 podium at Spa in the Le Mans Series, 24 Hours of Le Mans, etc.) Her 2012 racing program includes a full participation in the Super GT championship with two Audi R8 LMS in the GT300 class.