Nissan’s GT-R Nismo GT500 has snatched its 3rd straight win at the 2015 Super GT Championship held under blistering heat at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture.
The #24 D’station ADVAN GT-R NISMO GT500 driven by Daiki Sasaki and Michael Krumm at the weekend’s victory came following Round 2 at Fuji and Round 3 at Buriram, Thailand.
Furthermore, with the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 (Hironobu Yasuda / Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira) coming home in third and the #1 MOTUL AUTECH Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 (Tsugio Matsuda / Ronnie Quintarelli) finishing fourth, they are now first and second respectively in the championship rankings.
Coinciding with the Bon Festival holiday, Fuji Speedway saw 56,000 spectators turn out over the weekend to watch the race. Under the blazing sun, the fans in the grandstand experienced some sweltering conditions, but the excitement of race day blew away any concerns about the heat.
Having achieved very good results thus far in the season, both the #1 GT-R and #12 GT-R have been assigned handicap weights exceeding 50kg. Additionally, they have been fitted with fuel restrictors that limit the supply of fuel to the engine. Due to Fuji Speedway’s considerably long straight, the difference in top speeds between cars with and without this device is quite telling. As a result, the two cars struggled during the official qualifying sessions, leaving the #12 starting the final race from eighth and the #1 from 11th on the grid.
The #24 GT-R, having yet to be set any handicap weight, secured a sixth place start. Starting behind the wheel of the #24 GT-R, Krumm protected their sixth position in the opening stages and then went on to climb up one spot before handing the car over to Sasaki.
Approximately one hour after the race started, the road surface temperature began to drop and Sasaki began his push through the pack. First he passed the #100 NSX CONCEPT-GT to climb to fourth, and followed this up by overtaking the #36 RC F to leap into third.
In front of Sasaki the #1 GT-R was battling it out with the #38 RC F, but Sasaki almost effortlessly passed these two machines to put him in the top spot. After this he continued to lift his pace and pass the chequered flag with a 4.7 second margin over the next car. This was the first win for the #24 GT-R in 5 years and 4 months, the last being in the 2010 season opening round at Suzuka. Furthermore it was Sasaki’s first ever win in the SUPER GT, and Krumm’s first since 2004 at Tokachi, an interval of 11 years.
The success of the GT-Rs was not limited to this though. Starting from 11th on the grid, Matsuda took charge of the #1 GT-R and right from the word go was tenaciously chasing down his rivals to raise them to eighth by the time he headed into the pits. The NISMO mechanics then performed a blisteringly fast pit stop, 10 seconds faster than the rest of the competition, and when the #1 GT-R returned to the course it had risen to an astonishing real 3rd place.
Quintarelli continued to ride on this momentum, passing the #36 RC F to put them in 2nd, and rapidly began to close the gap with the #38 RC F. However, a sufficient chance to overtake the #38, which was free from the burden of a fuel restrictor, never quite presented itself, and towards the end of the race the #1 GT-R began to lose tyre grip. At this point it relinquished its position to the #12 GT-R and passed the chequered flag in fourth. The #12 GT-R had fallen down the order early in the race but shot back up in the second half to ultimately pass the #1 GT-R, a serious rival in the championship, to grab the third step on the podium. They are now sitting at the top of the point rankings.
Last round’s winner, the #46 S Road MOLA Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 (Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida) started from 10th and completed the race in 14th place.
In the GT300 class the #3 B-MAX NDDP Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (Kazuki Hoshino / Mitsunori Takaboshi) was hit by another car in the opening lap at Dunlop Corner, resulting in significant damage. Despite managing to get back to the pits it was forced to retire.
The #10 GAINER TANAX Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (Andre Couto / Katsumasa Chiyo) came home in sixth and this put Couto at the top of the GT300 championship rankings.
Round 5 of the 2015 Super GT Championship is the Suzuka 1000km on August 29-30.