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De Oliveira wary of BMW M4's "serious speed" in SUPER GT

Kondo Racing’s Joao Paulo de Oliveira has admitted concern to the BMW M4 GT3’s speed in SUPER GT following Team Studie’s dominant victory last time out at Suzuka.

#7 Studie BMW M4

Studie duo Seiji Ara and Tsubasa Kondo - standing in for an absent Augusto Farfus - converted pole into the team’s first GT300 win as an independent team, catapulting themselves to second in the drivers’ standings in the process.

The pair are 12 points adrift of de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami, who won the opening race of the season at Okayama in their Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and finished third at Suzuka.

Ahead of this week’s fourth round of the season at Fuji Speedway, de Oliveira said he expects the Studie BMW to be a formidable opponent for the rest of the season.

“The BMW is clearly a really good car,” the Brazilian told Motorsport.com. “I was driving behind it during wet testing at Fuji, and I thought, ‘oh my god, their car is amazing’. 

“Ara was behind me and I could tell he was lifting, taking it easy, because the car was so fast. I think they have serious speed in that car.”

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However, de Oliveira thinks that a number of other teams, including the third-placed Gainer Nissan of Ryuichiro Tomita and Riki Okusa that won on SUPER GT’s last visit to Fuji in May, will be a threat.

“In terms of threats for the championship, of course Gainer is up there, but anyone can recover from being towards the bottom in the standings,” he said. “Anyone who’s on 10 points now and wins the race, the gap is reduced to almost nothing. 

“There can be quite a few cars that haven’t had the luck yet, like the #88 [JLOC Lamborghini] and #52 [Saitama Toyopet Toyota Supra], I think they were on track to win the Fuji round but their strategy was ruined by the red flag. 

“The LEON [Mercedes] has shown better pace this year, they are also ones to watch. Even the ARTA [Honda], I don’t know what’s going on there, I expect them to be strong in the next race or two with no success weight.

“It’s hard to say who’s a contender and who’s not, because GT300 is so diverse. We’ll definitely see some different winners and some unexpected winners.”

De Oliveira and Fujinami will be saddled with 99kg of handicap weight at Fuji due to their early-season successes, and will be running at or close to the maximum threshold of 100kg until the penultimate round of the season at Autopolis, where the ballast is halved.

 

But the 40-year-old is taking encouragement from the fact he and Fujinami were able to finish third at Suzuka despite carrying a still-considerable 66kg of extra weight.

“No doubt the next three races will be very hard with 100kg on board,” admitted de Oliveira. “But that’s how SUPER GT is when you score big points in early in the season.

“We expect some tough races, especially now with the higher temperatures because it’s summer. But we’ve shown we can be fast with weight in the car. 

“I just hope we can keep scoring points, make good strategy calls, and that we get a lot of different winners to spread out the points and give us more of an advantage.”

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