Super GT

Nissan Z NISMO 500 #12 Marelli Impul Z just short of podium at Suzuka

June 4, 2024

5 min Reading

Number 12 Nismo car at Suzuka.

The third round of the 2024 Super GT series took place at Suzuka Circuit, in Mie prefecture on June 2.

Following an intense 3-hour race, the #12 Marelli Impul Z, driven by Kazuki Hiramine and Bertrand Baguette secured 4th position, with all three other Nissan Z Nismo GT500 cars inside the top 10.

Following a 1-2 finish in the second round at Fuji International Speedway, the Nissan/NISMO teams were chasing consecutive victories at the renowned Suzuka Circuit. However, from the outset, it was always going to be challenging race, with the #3 Niterra Motul Z (Mitsunori Takaboshi / Atsushi Miyake), the #12 Marelli Impul Z, and the #23 Motul Autech Z (Katsumasa Chiyo / Ronnie Quintarelli) all carrying success weights based on their results from previous rounds.

Detailed race report

GT500 Class

Cloudy skies and the occasional rain shower in the morning, cleared just prior to the race start. Despite a forecast for more rain throughout the race, proceedings commenced at 1:30PM with dry conditions and all cars running on dry tires.

Following two formation laps, the #3 Z, driven by Takaboshi, started from 6th place, the #23 Z, driven by Quintarelli, 7th, the #12 Z, driven by Baguette from 8th, and the #24 Z, driven by Matsuda, from 9th.

By the end of lap 25, as the first round of pit stops began, the #3 Z was in 4th, the #12 Z in 5th, the #24 Z in 6th, and the #23 Z in 7th.

After 29 laps, the #24 Z pitted and Natori took the wheel. At the end of lap 32, the #23 Z pitted for a driver change to Chiyo. After 33 laps, both the #3 Z and #12 Z pitted simultaneously. The #3 Z did not change drivers, while the #12 Z switched to Hiramine.

By the end of lap 36, after all GT500 class cars had completed their first pit stops, the #12 Z was in 6th, the #24 Z in 7th, the #3 Z in 9th, and the #23 Z in 10th. Although the #12 Z dropped a few positions during the pit stop, following a close battle, Hiramine was eventually able to overtake two cars on lap 37 to move up to 4th place. On lap 40, Chiyo at the helm of the #23 Z, made contact with another car while entering the chicane, which later resulted in a drive-through penalty, causing him to lose positions.

As the race entered its final stages, there was light rain on parts of the track, just ahead of the second round of pit stops. The #3 Z, which had gradually moved up to 7th place, pitted after 57 laps, for a driver change to Miyake. After 60 laps, the #24 Z, running in 8th place, and the #23 Z, running in 9th place, both pitted. Matsuda took the wheel of #24 Z, while Chiyo continued driving the #23 Z. The #12 Z, which had delayed its pit stop, came in after 63 laps, changing from Hiramine to Baguette, and began its charge. By the end of lap 64, after all GT500 class cars had completed their second pit stops, the standings were: #12 Z in 5th place, #3 Z in 7th, #24 Z in 9th, and #23 Z in 11th.

On lap 71, the #23 Z passed a slower car ahead to move up to 10th place, bringing all the Z cars into the points. The #12 Z, running at a high pace and setting fastest lap, gradually closed the gap with the car ahead from 5th place, overtaking on lap 86 to move into 4th, and continued to push for a podium finish.

On the final lap of the race, lap 92, the #12 Z was within one second of 3rd place but couldn't overtake, finishing 4th. Despite the impact of success weights, the #3 Z showed tenacity and finished in 8th place. The #24 Z and #23 Z, managed to stay in top 10, with all the Z cars earning valuable points.

The teams will prepare for the next race with the goal of reclaiming the title, aiming for their second win of the season with the Nissan Z NISMO GT500 in the fourth round at Fuji International Speedway in early August.

Kazuki Hiramine (#12 Marelli Impul Z)

"I handled the second stint, and the tire warm-up went well, allowing me to overtake two rivals, which was good. Although I couldn't increase the pace much at the end, I had a good battle with car #36. We just missed the podium, but Baguette made a strong push, and we locked down some valuable points. I think this result will carry over to the next race, and we'll do our best to run a good race at Fuji."

Bertrand Baguette (#12 Marelli Impul Z)

"Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the podium, but our pace during the race was good. Starting from a lower position, we lost a lot of time in the pack early on. The situation improved in the third stint, but I struggled a bit to overtake car #36. However, the car has definitely improved compared to the previous race at Fuji, and we need to carry this momentum into the next Fuji race. The season is still long, so we'll keep pushing."

GT300 Class

In the GT300 class, four Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s and one GTA GT300 regulation Fairlady Z competed. The #62 Helm Motorsports GT-R (Kohei Hirate / Yuya Hiraki / Reiji Hiraki) started from 21st in qualifying and climbed up to finish just outside the points in 11th place.