August 9, 2012
|2011 SUPER GT
Round 5 SUZUKA 500km RACE
Round 5 of the 2012 SUPER GT season is the 41st running of the International Pokka 1,000kms, held over two days, August 18 and 19, at Suzuka Circuit in Mie prefecture. First held in 1966, the Suzuka 1,000kms is one of the classic racing events in Japan. It is the highlight of the summer at Suzuka, and the fireworks display following the six-hour race is a regular fixture.
Contesting SUPER GT's GT500 class with the GT-R, the NISSAN camp has the following team lineups: The #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama and Michael Krumm (Germany); which, in terms of experience and track record, is Japan's premiere driver combination. Althoug there is no additionally registered 3rd drivers for this, the longest event of the season, the other three teams have Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quintarelli (Italy) in the #1 MOLA S Road REITO MOLA GT-R, Tsugio Matsuda and Joao Paulo de Oliveira (Brazil) in the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, and Hironobu Yasuda and Bjorn Wirdheim (Sweden) in the #24 KONDO RACING D'station ADVAN GT-R.
This upcoming round at Suzuka, as it has every year, is expected to be a scorcher. Occasionally, rain has caused wet conditions, but even then, the heat was unchanged and that's what will be on everyone's minds. However, in a race as long as 1,000kms the track surface temperatures vary a great deal. It is therefore essential that the teams bring a combination of tyres to cover this wide temperature range. The course layout is a balanced combination ranging from low- to high-speed corners and it is imperative that machine setups skillfully cope with the characteristics of the entire course. In addition, many of the teams are expected to use upgraded engines designed for the conditions expected at Suzuka and the focus of attention will be on by how much the pole position times can be reduced.
The Nissan GT-R has yet to taste victory this season. Nevertheless, being a long-distance race, the Suzuka round is a battle that tests the combined might of the teams, and for the #23 NISMO entry, it presents a genuine opportunity for the squad to clinch their first win of the season. Being victors of the 2006 and 2008 race, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R is also considered a strong favourite. At the official test held at Suzuka in July, the #1 MOLA recorded the top time despite the grueling weather conditions. The #24 KONDO RACING entry has also shone on more than one occasion at Suzuka, and is expected to approach the race with a spirit of vengeance.
The rival camps will also be very conscious of the fact that Suzuka is going to be crucial for deciding the direction in which the series' title fight plays out. With Suzuka as their home track, the Honda teams will be determined that this is a battle they absolutely cannot lose. Similar in character to the GT-R, the HSV favours Suzuka for its combination of diverse curves, ranging from low- to medium-to-high speed - and for this reason alone, the Honda teams' hopes will be compounded this time around. Meanwhile, the Lexus squads, who have notched up 3 victories from four rounds so far this season, will definitely be motivated to secure one more win here in order to sustain their current momentum.
GT500 is not the only class where a battle of prestige is playing out among Japan's top three automakers. Attention is also being focused on SUPER GT's GT300 class and the intense campaigns being waged therein.
The young drivers of the NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program) have been entrusted to this fight in SUPER GT, and NDDP RACING's #3 S Road NDDP GT-R, which took its first victory in the previous round at SUGO, will be giving its utmost at Suzuka in an effort to take back-to-back victories as they push to seize the title.