Falling giant ?With the drastic changes made in the GT500 class technical regulation for this season, the competition picture among domestic cars is starting to shift. Nevertheless, the NISSAN GT-Rs continue to be visible except for the defending champion No.1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama / Benoit Treluyer) who has not score a point yet after two rounds of the season, but that is mostly due to bad lucks fell on the team in the two races. So the champion team will definitely go after a win at Fuji, or at least a podium finish, to put them back on the rhythm for the season. And No.12 IMPUL CALSONIC GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda / Sebastien Philippe) seems to be well-fit to join the No.1 car in the battle for victory.
Fuji: Toyota home track.If there is anybody who would put more stakes on Fuji, it must be the LEXUS SC430 fleet. With the Fuji Speedway being a part of Toyota group, the track is pretty much home for the fleet. They have accumulated a great amount of data through numerous testing done at the track, so it's not just winnable but it is a "must-win" track for Lexus'. Leading force would be No.38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 driven by "Fuji Meister" Yuji Tachikawa (partnered with Richard Lyons). Their brilliant win at Suzuka stopped GT-R's winning streak that continued from last year. Despite the handicap weight that the Lexus team has to carry, anything can happen in the long-lasting 400km marathon. In fact, the team won in Fuji last year which proves that it has enough potential to overcome. Obviously, No.36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Juichi Wakisaka / Andre Lotterer) will be looking straight towards the win at Fuji as well after losing to No.38 at Suzuka. Young pair of No.35 KRAFT SC430 (Hiroaki Ishiura / Kazuya Oshima) would be another interesting contender besides aforementioned two.
On the other side, Honda NSX camp is struggling a bit this season, but No.32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval / Yuhki Nakayama) favors Fuji track, and No.8 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman / Takuya Izawa) and No.18 ROCKSTAR DOME NSX (Ryo Michigami / Takuya Kogure) are known to be fast on the course. All three have a good chance to be in top positions.
GT300 class is no different in the complexity of competition picture. It may even be more chaotic. Winner of 9th round in Fuji last year, No.26 UP START TAISAN PORSCHE, and all other Porsches would be the top favorite for the race with their remarkable record at the track. But the No.26 team has a new pair driving for them this season, making it all unpredictable. Wait and see how Haruki Kurosawa and Tsubasa Abe perform on the track. Winner of the round 2 in Suzuka, No.33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Mitsuhiro Kinoshita / Masami Kageyama), should be included in the list of candidates, but, unfortunately, the team is not competing in the event.
Other than above, No.81 DAISHIN ADVAN Ferrari (Takayuki Aoki / Tomonobu Fujii) should be highlighted for its speed on the straight. The team was unable to leave a good result in spite of its performance on the track. No.2 Privée Apple Shiden (Hiroki Katoh / Hiroki Yoshimoto) and No.11 JIMGAINER ADVAN F430 (Tetsuya Tanaka / Katsuyuki Hiranaka) may put themselves in the contention for top positions.No.43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Nitta / Shinichi Takagi) and other Michelin tire users obtained top-position finishes at Fuji last year by taking 1-pit-stop strategy rather than common 2-pit-stops strategy. But the regulation for this season requires all teams to make two pit-stops during the race at this round hence none of the teams are allowed to use the 1-pit-stop strategy this year, which means teams will be battling for their speed over speed.
Looking back to last year's race, it was won by young drivers. It would be interesting to see how the young duo of No.74 COROLLA Axio apr GT (Takuto Iguchi / Yuji Kunimoto) perform after two rounds of experience on the new car.
Going extra distance from usual 300km to 400km with 2 pit-stops, anything unusual can happen at the 3rd round Fuji. Moreover, teams are allowed to have a third driver for the race, adding another uncertainty. With the race being held during the Golden Week, a huge crowd shows up to the track every year, giving all drivers a motive to say that they want to win. Race should offer many dramatic and exciting actions to the fans again this year