June 12, 2023
5 min Reading
Although an unfortunate accident brought a premature end to round 3 of the SUPER GT held at Suzuka Circuit on June 3 and 4, three Nissan Z GT500s finished in the top 10. The final result had the #1 Z finishing in 3rd, the #3 Z in 4th, and the #24 Z in 8th.
The race began with Kohei Hirate behind the wheel of the #24 REALIZE CORPORATION ADVAN Z, swiftly gaining one position on the opening lap. Bertrand Baguette, driving the #1 MARELLI IMPUL Z, made a decisive move at the chicane on lap 7, surpassing the car ahead to secure 3rd. However, on lap 8, a GT300 car with a technical issue stopped at the hairpin, leading to the deployment of the safety car.
The race resumed on lap 13, and Katsumasa Chiyo in the #3 Niterra MOTUL Z wasted no time overtaking a car at the first corner, advancing to 11th. Over the next few laps, the #3 Z continued to display its prowess by overtaking another car on lap 14 and yet another on lap 16, climbing to 9th position. After completing 18 laps, the #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z became the first car in the GT500 class to make a pit stop for refueling and tire changes.
Following suit, the #1 Z, running in 3rd, also made an early pit stop after 19 laps. In contrast, the #3 Z and #24 Z postponed their pit stops until the end of lap 30 and 34 respectively. The #24 Z's pit stop was the final one in the GT500 class. By lap 35, when all cars had completed their first pit stop, the #1 Z occupied the second position, the #23 Z settled in third, the #3 Z was running in 11th, and the #24 Z held 13th.
As the Z cars intensified their pace, Mitsunori Takaboshi in the #3 Z executed a daring overtake from the main straight to the first corner on lap 37, propelling the car to 10th. The #1 Z, in second place, and the #23 Z, in third, closed the gap on the cars ahead, aiming to improve their standings. After 42 laps, the #1 Z opted for an early second pit stop, seeking to gain an advantage through the undercut. Kazuki Hiramine grabbed the wheel at this point. In contrast, the #3 Z and the #24 Z delayed their second pit stops. While their rivals steadily made their pit stops, the #3 Z surged into the lead on lap 50, with the #24 Z hot on its heels in second place. The #1 Z, having already completed its 2nd pit stop, climbed to fifth place, while the #23 Z secured the sixth position as the race approached its conclusion.
After completing 54 laps, the #24 Z made a pit stop and rejoined the race in 9th place. The team increased their pace, setting their sights on higher positions. Meanwhile, the #3 Z strategically postponed its second pit stop, waiting for the perfect moment to make the switch. However, on lap 58, an unfortunate accident occurred at the end of the 130R corner involving the #23 Z and GT300 class cars. The #23 Z crashed, prompting the immediate introduction of the SC and a subsequent red flag, which halted the race due to the necessary repairs to the course barriers. Ultimately, an end to the race was called and the #3 Z was declared provisional winner based on the order of positions in lap 58. However, the #3 Z received a 60-second penalty for not refuelling twice in the race as required by the regulations. NDDP RACING protested, but the committee did not revise its decision. The team expressed their wish to lodge an appeal but ultimately did not proceed.
In the GT300 class five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed and the #56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R, which qualified 9th, came in 4th, just missing out on the podium. The #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R finished in 5th, and the #10 PONOS GAINER GT-R finished in 8th place. The remaining two GT-Rs also finished the race.