Two Zs Finish on the podium at Fuji
Aug 08, 2022
Round 4 of the 2022 SUPER GT Series was held on August 7th at Fuji Speedway. In the #24 Realize corporation ADVAN Z, Kohei Hirate started from 2nd on the grid and passed the pole sitter in lap 3 to take the lead. Bertrand Baguette in the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL Z, started from 7th and moved up to 6th on the first lap, and then rapidly climbed up to 3rd by lap 7. Ronnie Quintarelli in the #23 Z, started from 8th and also moved up to 5th by lap 8, and in the early stages of the race, the Zs were running in the lead, 3rd and 5th.
On lap 34, the #23 Z made its first pit stop and Quintarelli handed the wheel to Tsugio Matsuda. However, on lap 35, the #23 Z experienced an issue and had to pit for minor repairs which left it returning to the race 5 laps behind. After all GT500 machines had completed their first pit stop, the #24 Z was back in the lead with Daiki Sasaki taking the wheel and the #12 Z remained in 3rd with Kazuki Hiramine taking the reins.
The #24 Z and #12 Z steadily maintained their positions right up until their second pit stops. The #24 Z pitted on lap 73 and Sasaki switched back to Hirate. However, their rival running in 2nd pitted in the same lap and returned to the course without changing drivers and this saw the #24 relinquish the top spot. The #12 Z that pitted in on lap 75 also did not change drivers with Hiramine still in the driver's seat the car left the pits and set its sight on the lead. Although Hiramine briefly returned to the course at the top of the pack he had trouble stopping at the first corner and went off course, dropping him back to 2nd place. As the race headed into its closing stages the #12 Z was running in 2nd place, 5 seconds behind the leader, and the #24 Z was in 3rd, with a gap of 7 seconds.
The #12 Z and #24 Z pursued the lead and were able to close the gap for a time, but ultimately remained in their positions and the #12 Z finished the 99-lap race in 2nd and the #24 Z in 3rd. The #3 Z, which started 13th, finished 12th, and the #23 Z finished the race in 14th place.
Kazuki Hiramine stated, “It’s a bit disappointing because I could see us winning the race, but I felt from the beginning that we were in the fight for the podium, and I think we did our best. Not only are we competing in the new Nissan Z、but also the tires and the car are working well with each other, and the team just gets stronger and stronger. We’ll set our sights on an even better performance in the next round.” Bertrand Baguette followed, “Of course, we are disappointed to have narrowly missed out on the win, but I think we had a good race. I started from 7th position, but I quickly fought my way up to 3rd. Then Hiramine did a very good job. I think we and the team were able to show our strengths today.”
The Nissan/NISMO cars have certainly demonstrated their competitiveness this season with all four Nissan Z GT500 cars having reached the podium at least once in the four races held so far. The next round will be at Suzuka Circuit, a track where Nissan/NISMO has been maintaining a winning streak in the GT500 class, and the teams will be battling for a fifth consecutive victory. Moving into the second half of the season, it will be an important race in the fight for the championship.
Five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed in the GT300 class, with the #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda / Keishi Ishikawa), which qualified 9th, finishing on the podium in 2nd place. The #56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami / Joao Paulo de Oliveira) finished 6th despite a 99kg success weight and maintained their lead in the series rankings. The #360 RUNUP RIVAUX GT-R (Takayuki Aoki / Atsushi Tanaka / Yusaku Shibata) finished in 10th place.