Opened in 1966, Fuji Speedway has been a thriving home of Japan’s motor sports for more than half a century. Since its fledging era in the 1960s, Fuji has hosted many races like the Japan Grand Prix and Japan’s first 24-hour race. In the 1970s it held races of international series, becoming the first circuit to host a F1 World Championship and the World Endurance Championship (WEC). At the same time, it continued to evolve into one of Japan’s leading circuits, giving birth to its own new races like the Fuji Grand Champion Series. In recent years, in addition to newly holding races of the WEC series centering around the 24 hours of Le Mans and popular series like SUPER GT and SUPER FORMULA, from 2018 it revitalized the 24-hour race in the SUPER Taikyu Series.
Built and financed by Yamaha, Sugo was developed in ’75 in a serene park-like setting in rural Japan. Hemmed in by rolling hills, the first tracks—one for cars, one for motorbikes (motocross)—offered precious little in terms of safety or run-off and the track needed an extensive redesign in the late ’80s. It’s not a big player in international motorsports, but in Japan, Sugo is a beloved and treasured motorsport facility and home to almost every big-name Japanese series, from F3000 through to the best touring car championships in Asia and the All Japan Championship. A tough and narrow club-like circuit, this is the kind of place where talent can often grab sub-standard machinery by the scruff of the neck and onto the podium. A quick circuit with hills and blind apexes through sweeping turns, this is the ultimate rhythm track and purpose-made for high-downforce cars. Just keep an eye on the kerbs and the weather.
The full GP layout is a big test of setup, power, and driving ability. Sweeping esses will quickly determine what kind of handling your car has—and anything other than a beautifully balanced machine through here is going to eat your laptime away. Coupled with two long straights, a super-quick right hander, and two hard braking zones, what you have here is a figure of 8 that will show up any defect in car or driver. A true driver’s circuit.