Yokohama made “backwards step” for round two

After showing encouraging one-lap pace in Fuji pre-season testing and in qualifying for last month’s opening race at the track, Mugen’s Red Bull-backed Honda NSX-GT was one of several Yokohama runners to encounter tyre trouble in the curtain-raiser.

That prompted Yokohama, which also supplies the Bandoh Toyota and Kondo Nissan in the GT500 class, to bring a stiffer construction tyre to last weekend’s second round.

However, the Mugen car shared by Sasahara and Hideki Mutoh struggled for pace and ended up down in 10th, one minute behind the winning Bridgestone-shod Real Racing Honda.

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“In the previous race we had a tyre issue and they [Yokohama] tried to fix the problem for this round,” Sasahara told Motorsport.com. “But actually the performance was worse, to be honest. In the end we can’t really do anything.

“[The car set-up] protects the tyre as much as possible which is a good step for us and a better solution, but the tyre is a really difficult factor.”

Hopes were raised for a Yokohama revival this year after the Mugen car set the fastest third sector in Fuji pre-season testing, and the Kondo Nissan topped the timesheets in a subsequent private tyre test at Suzuka, albeit not with every GT500 car present.

But so far the firm’s best result of the season has been the ninth achieved…

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