■ Sanwa COOPER takes 3rd. at JCCA FUJI JAMBOREE
David Lord, Sanwa Trading
April 14, 2013
The FUJI JAMBOREE was held as the JCCA CLASSIC CAR FESTIVAL opening race at Fuji Speedway, Japan’s storied race track. Driving car 11, Toru Ukawa was at a disadvantage against the more powerful Japanese and German cars in his class, but still went up on the podium to receive the checkered flag in an impressive third place overall result. Today the Rover Mini left its mark on heart of Japanese motorsport.
The Sanwa Car was up against much more powerful cars such as the Porsche 908 (Left) and the Nissan B110 Sunny (Right)
Car 11 was entered last year in the JCCA (Japan Classic Car Association) F RACE class, but could not keep up with its more powerful opponents. This year, we introduced a new engine gain an edge in this highly competitive class. However, our team did not get a chance to properly test the engine prior to that weekend. All adjustments were performed during the shakedown at the circuit….the day before the race. Luckily, no major problems were found and the car was entered.
A Mini is an unusual sight at this race. Spectators and competitors alike gathered to look at the Sanwa car.
The weather at Fuji Speedway was sunny, but there was a strong wind delaying the race. Eventually, the wind died down and the main event began. Enter the qualifying round. Continuing a good performance from the shake down the previous day, Car 11 averaged 2 minutes 2.134 seconds over five laps, placing 11th place overall and 7th in its class, only 0.66 seconds behind the next car, qualifying Sanwa for the final race.
A look at the many competitors as they line up to enter the final race.
In a highly contested final, driver Toru Ukawa came out of the gate with a perfect start. In the opening lap, Car 11 took the first corner perfectly but soon fell behind to its more powerful opponents going through the main straight. In the early stages, the Sanwa car had only managed to move up to sixth place from seventh. It seemed like there was no chance to even place, but Car 11 continued to update its best lap and the podium soon became within in reach. In the second half the race became a battle of the F-1 class. Car number 24 Sunny (Driver Tetsuya Fuura) and car number 4 (Driver Hidefumi Minami) committed one foul after another and a drive-through penalty was imposed. The two were disqualified after continuing to ignore the warning flag until the end of the race. Car 11 moved up to fourth place late in the game. A penalty flag was presented to) Car number 24 Tomei Sunny running for second place at this point, giving third place to Car 11. The Sanwa team started to get excited. With a best time of 2 minutes 01.785 seconds, the Rover Mini received the checkered flag in smooth last lap at Fuji Speedway.
The Sanwa Car lined up and ready to begin the final race (Top) while Crew Chief Shimizu (Below, In Red) looks on.
Driver, Toru Ukawa comment
Qualifying was very nerve racking with the new engine, the behavior of the car is also quite different from before, I was puzzled at first, but I was relieved a little to put in a good performance. In the final, the start went well, but the rest of the race was tough. However, I was able to make good laps on track and also put one of the best times. I was surprised to get third overall. This time, with a new engine, even though there was no time for testing it, we did well. Thanks to the mechanic who set up the car well, regardless of setting of the body, it was possible to exert a great performance and get third on the podium. I think that because Tsukuba Circuit has more of an advantage for the mini than Fuji, next time I will be able to update my personal best and I will work hard with the aim of moving my position up further. Thank you for the support
Toru Ukawa (Right) celebrates with the other podium winners.
Crew Chief Comments
With no trouble in the shakedown the day before and matching the driver with the new engine without any problems, I felt a good flow to all. It was poised to do well in the race and we were aiming to just qualify. Our performance in the shakedown helped keep the team calm. The final race of the F class was a little rough, but the 11 car showed me a really great run. I think the car will be tested before the race to be held in Tsukuba Circuit in July, I would like a secure setting. This time, I think it is possible to fully show the high potential of Rover Mini, and I wonder if this is the answer to the support of the Rover Mini. Thank you for your support in the future.
*All Quotes have een translated and edited for clarity