March 21, 2012
The first round of the 2012 SUPER GT season, the Okayama GT 300km Race, takes place over two days, March 31st and April 1st, at Okayama International Circuit, located in Mimasaka, in the eastern part of Okayama prefecture. Official testing took place at the circuit two weeks before the race, on March 17th and 18th, and each squad fielding NISSAN GT-R entries is fully prepared for the season-opening event. The race distance has been reverted to the 300kms that it had been up until 2010.
|#1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R||#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R|
Just as it did last year, the NISSAN group consists of four teams, running four cars - with the only change being the reigning champions MOLA switching their competition number from 46 to 1, reflecting their success in 2011. The #23 NISMO, #12 IMPUL, and #24 KONDO RACING entries remain unchanged. Other than the return to NISMO after a two-year absence of last year's FIA GT1 world champion Michael Krumm of Germany to partner Satoshi Motoyama, there are no driver changes. In the #1 car, Masataka Yanagida is once again paired up with Italian driver Ronnie Quintarelli, the #12 machine has Tsugio Matsuda and Brazilian João Paulo de Oliveira, and the #24 car features Hironobu Yasuda alongside Swede Bjorn Wirdheim.
|#12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R||#24 D'station ADVAN GT-R|
The official test comprised a total of 4 two-hour sessions over the course of the two days. The morning sessions saw conditions ranging from semi-wet to dry, while the afternoon sessions were mostly dry. Cars using Michelin rubber were quick in the semi-wet conditions, while there is not enough data to analyse tyre performance in the dry conditions. Nevertheless, coupled an increase in overall speed was due to the implementation of a two-rank increase in air restrictor size, although a lack of rubber on the track surface, times came close to the course record set in 2004 by Michael Krumm in a Fairlady Z (1:22:404). Therefore, in the extent of improvement in times provokes interest that can be expended for the race on April 1st.
Looking at the battle between the NISSAN teams, the #23 NISMO entry will be aiming for a return to its title-winning ways, while the #1 MOLA car seeks to defend its title. Then there's the winner of this event last year, the #12 IMPUL machine, who performed promisingly in testing, and the #24 KONDO RACING GT-R who won the opening race at Okayama in 2009. Last season, the GT-R squads dominated, winning five of the season's eight races, but the rivals are of course not going to sit around twiddling their thumbs. They began development of their 2012 machines early on after having bitter experience from last season, and appear to have been very thorough in their off-season testing - as attested by the top three positions in the pre-season test, which shared with GT-Rs and their rivals.
|#3 S Road NDDP GT-R|
In addition, it will be possible to see a GT-R running in the GT300 class in 2012, as an FIA GT3-spec machine will be piloted by a pair of young NDDP drivers. With the recent regulation changes and the proliferation of FIA GT3-spec machines, the overall speed of the GT300 class has increased, but also there are increasingly high hopes for the newcomer GT-R in the GT300 class.
Photo : SUPER GT Official Test at Okayama Int'l Circuit (17-18 March)