No. 56 GT-R takes GT300 class victory.
It wasn’t exactly the start to the season that the Nissan teams had been hoping for, but the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 came away from the opening round of the SUPER GT held this weekend at Okayama Circuit with two top 10 finishes.
At the start of the race Ronnie Quintarelli in the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R pulled out a strong dash to leap up to 7th position in the opening lap and went on to pass another car in lap 6 to move into 6th. Meanwhile, Nobuharu Matsushita in the #12 GT-R started from 13th and gained several positions to move up to 9th place by lap 32, while the #3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R driven by Kohei Hirate was running not far behind in 10th.
At the race’s midpoint, a GT300 car spun out and stopped on the course, and this saw a mad rush for the pits as the majority of the field predicted a safety car (SC) dispatch and subsequent closing of pit lane. However, with so many cars pitting simultaneously, chaos ensued, and this saw several fluctuations in position. By the midpoint of the race, the #23 GT-R was in 9th, the #3 GT-R in 10th, and the #12 GT-R in 11th.
Unfortunately, during a fierce battle for position, the #23 GT-R came into contact with several cars, causing damage that forced it to retire. The #12 GT-R was also caught up in this accident and went off course, temporarily dropping to 13th place.
As the race entered its final stages, the #3 GT-R was running in 9th after cutting through the confusion, while the #12 GT-R recovered to 10th place by lap 70. The two cars maintained these positions within the points sphere until the checkered flag. The #3 GT-R’s Kohei Hirate related, “the race was a little tough for us, but I think we learned a lot from the solid performance this time, and we will now focus on the next round and beyond.”
In the GT300 class, where five Nissan machines competed, last year’s champion, the #56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R, started from 4th on the grid and took class victory. In addition, the #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R started from pole position to lead the race in the early stages and, although they dropped down some positions later in the race due to the chaotic SC period, a tenacious run saw them finish in 4th, making it a strong start to the season for the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3.
The next round of the SUPER GT will be held at Fuji Speedway on May 4th.