#3 Z leads GT500 championship after second season win in tumultuous race #23 Z’s 2nd place sees a 1-2 finish for the Nissan Z GT500
Sep 19, 2022
An approaching typhoon made for an exciting round 6 of the SUPER GT this weekend as it brought thick clouds, strong winds and the possibility of rain, which left everyone guessing as to how the race would unfold.
Although it qualified 3rd, the #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z was demoted 4 grids at the start of the race due to accumulated penalty points and it proceeded in 7th at the start of the race. On the other hand, the #3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z, which started from 11th, moved up one position to 10th on the first lap.
Later, in lap 13, rain began to fall and was so heavy that some parts of the track instantly became drenched. This led the #3 Z and #24 Realize corporation ADVAN Z to pit to change to wet tires on lap 15, while the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z did so on lap 16. The #23 Z put off pitting for longer until lap 19 when a full course yellow (FCY) was called. When all GT500 class cars had finished changing tires, the #23 Z was running in 5th, the #3 Z in 7th, the #24 Z in 9th, and the #12 Z in 12th. While the rain continued to fall, the Michelin tire sporting #23 Z and #3 Z were running at a pace around four seconds faster than their rivals, and on lap 27 the #23 Z took the lead, while on lap 28 the #3 Z moved into second place. The two cars continued maintaining this pace and began to pull away from the rest of the pack as the race entered the latter half.
On lap 44, the #23 Z came in for a pit stop to change drivers and refuel. As a result, the #3 Z took the lead, and the #23 Z returned to the race in 2nd position. The #12 Z, which had moved up to 6th position, pitted on lap 50 to change drivers and switch to dry tires, aiming to catch up in the final laps of the race. On lap 54, the #23 Z running in 2nd place also pitted and changed to dry tires. Then finally, after building up its lead on wet tires, the #3 Z came in for a driver and a tire change on lap 55. With this, the #3 Z, which ultimately required one less pit stop than the #23 Z, returned to the race a formidable 28 seconds ahead of the #23 Z in 2nd place. The #23 Z, not to be outdone though, built up an over 30-second margin over the third-placed car, leaving the Zs in a solid 1-2 position as the race entered the final stages.The #3 Z went on to win the 84-lap race, grabbing its second victory of the season. The #23 Z finished in 2nd, making this the first 1-2 finish of the season for the Zs and back-to-back wins in rounds 5 and 6. The #12 Z showed speed despite being laden with a severe success weight and achieved a commendable 5th-place finish at the end of the tumultuous race. The #24 Z was unable to improve its pace in the wet conditions and finished the race in the 14th. This result put the #3 Z at the top of the series ranking with 54 points.
Following the race, Katsumasa Chiyo stated, “We were saved by Michelin's wet tires. This result was unexpected, but we have to win when we can as we have a strong desire to take the championship in the first year of competing in the Z.” Mitsunori Takaboshi followed, “I did not expect to have the car passed to me in the lead (laughs), but I was determined not to let my driving ruin the effort that had been made up to that point.”
In the GT300 class, five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3s competed, and the #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R started from 17th on the grid to take 2nd place, its second podium finish this season despite carrying 60kg of success weight. The #10 TANAX GAINER GT-R finished 3rd, and the #56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R finished 4th. With this, the #56, #10, and #11 GT-Rs now hold the top three spots in the rankings.