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Heikki Kovalainen says SARD has become more professional – Motorsports

Former F1 racer Kovalainen finished his sixth season with SARD in the best grid slot since the 2016 campaign, which won the title at the Fuji Speedway finale, but he and his teammate Yuichi Nakayama raced in Sascha Fenez. It was ruined by Traz’s early contact with Toyota.

As a result, Finnish drivers missed the first two races of the 2020 campaign due to travel restrictions in Japan’s COVID-19 and were ranked 11th in the drivers ranking.

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This time last year, Kovalainen He said he wanted SARD to make changes in the wake of the disappointing season.And when the team was overhauled under the stewardship of three-time GT500 champion Juichi Wakisaka, he fulfilled his wishes.

Looking back on the 2020 season, Kovalainen said he was happy with the changes that took place within SARD on Wakisaka’s watch.

“I think the team has improved a lot,” Kovalainen told Motorsport.com. “I went in the wrong direction in the setup, but it was a conscious effort in that direction and it wasn’t working. We don’t think it was lost. It was probably too late to go in the wrong direction. Noticed. .

“The reason we went in the other direction was not because we were copying everyone else, but because of our own judgment. The team has a better understanding of the car and feels that the weekends are getting better.

“Mr. Eleven leads the team very well and the engineers are focused on their field. I think we’ve been working more like a professional racing team than in the last few years. We are now beginning to focus on the details and seeing the effect.

“I’m really happy about it, and hopefully people are aware that SARD has made some progress. It’s a team credit.”

Yuichi Nakayama, Heikki Kovalainen, Juichi Wakisaka, Team Director (# 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra)

Photo: Masahide Kamio

Nakayama also finished his second season at SARD and was praised for Wakasaka’s leadership in the top GT500 class of SUPER GT.

“Some people think we had to improve because the season started badly,” Nakayama told Motorsport.com. “Still, it didn’t stop and it got better and better because Mr. 11 took the initiative in many meetings.

“From 8 pm to midnight, there was a meeting of about 3 hours each time, and everyone agreed. The mechanic, the engineer alone, stayed until the end of the meeting. [speaking].. The morale was very high.

“The whole team was working together with a positive attitude and I thought the teamwork was great. In that respect, I think we were the best of all Toyota teams.”

Kovalainen added that he had a “chance” to stay in SARD in the 2021 season, and there is no reason why he and the team couldn’t compete for the second SUPER GT crown to be successful with Kohei Hirate. It dates back to 2016.

“I still have a lot of motivation to race and stay healthy,” Finn said. “I want to fight for victory, and it was hard when you couldn’t do it for a few years.

“You start to question yourself-I’m losing it? But at the same time, I kept some light at the end of the tunnel. We hope to come back now. . “

Additional report by Tomohiro Yoshida

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# 39 Densoko Belco Sard GR Supra

# 39 Densoko Belco Sard GR Supra

Photo: Masahide Kamio

– Motorsports

Heikki Kovalainen says SARD has become more professional

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