August 9, 2013
Round 5 of the 2013 Autobacs SUPER GT, the "42nd International Pokka Sapporo 1000km" (also known as the Suzuka 1000kms), will be held on August 17th and 18th at Suzuka Circuit, in Mie Prefecture. Since the first running of the event back in 1966, the Suzuka 1000kms has been honored as Japan's most storied, classic race. Although GT cars became the main focus at the end of the 1990s and the race was incorporated into the SUPER GT series in 2006, the Suzuka 1000kms has always maintained its reputation as a demanding long distance race, run in scorching heat.
|2012 INTERNATIONAL POKKA 1000km|
Suzuka Circuit, with its mid-low to high-speed corners, mixes a wide variety of characteristics throughout its 5.807km lap distance. Recognized by top drivers from all around the world as “very challenging”, the circuit is demanding even during car setup or time attack sessions, and the section from the Esses to the Dunlop curve, with its succession of mid-speed corners, plays an important role in any team's strategy.
Prior to the race, official testing was held at the circuit in mid-July, a week before the SUGO round. On the first day, the #1 REITO MOLA GT-R posted the top time, while the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R went fastest on the second day. The two GT-Rs, both on Michelin rubber, also took the top two spots in the combined times over the two days. Being that there were various weight handicaps onboard the cars, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R and the #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R gave up the top times in order to complete their test menu programs. However, both cars appear to be in top condition, and performance expectations for TEAM IMPUL are high, the squad having already taken two victories in the event, in a Fairlady Z (2006) and a GT-R (2008).
Next year, new Technical Regulations will be implemented in the GT500 class. Therefore, machines running to the current regulations will be seen for the last time this season.
All three of the car manufacturers have put an unprecedented amount of energy into developing their 2013 charges. Each manufacturer grabbed hold of a victory in the first three races of the season, displaying the equality in terms of performance among the three makes. However, there is some concern over the Honda teams, who count Suzuka as their home circuit, and also the #38 Lexus SC430 that came third in the recent test, and the similar #39 machine which has been closing in on the frontrunners of late. Still, the Nissan GT-R teams showed their worth by displaying absolute speed and tenacity as they steadily advanced toward the top positions during the test.
On the other hand, the performance of the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 entries in the GT300 class seem to have been pushed down by opponents of JAF-GT machines and, coupled with a string of unfortunate incidents, the cars have been unable to produce any good results. However, the BoP (Balance of Performance) will be looked at again from this point, and a revival of FIA-GT3 spec machines' performance is anticipated. In particular, among the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3-equipped teams, expectations are highest for the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R.