March 28, 2014
The opening round of SUPER GT 2014 will be held at the Okayama International Circuit in Okayama prefecture over two days between April 5 and 6. In preparation, three weeks before the main event on March 15 and 16, official tests were carried out in Okayama which has been the stage for the opening round for four consecutive years since 2011. After this, each team was set to greet the opening with renewed enthusiasm.
|March 15 and 16, official tests|
This season is unique in that the technical regulations for the GT500 class have been renewed. The biggest difference is in the engines which, in comparison to last years cars equipped with 3.4 liter naturally aspirated V8 engines, are now direct injection 2 liter turbo engines. Also, although vehicles will be composed of the same cowl covered, carbon composite monocoque used by last year's vehicles, the monocoque must use “common components” that are identical with other competitors. Furthermore, many other major parts such as the drive-train and suspension are now required to be uniform across all rival teams.
From the Nissan camp, as with last year, four teams running NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500s will be entering the race this year. The drivers for NISMO will be the new combination of Ronnie Quintarelli and Matsuda Tsugio. Hironobu Yasuda has been transferred to team IMPUL and will partner up with João Paulo de Oliveira, while over at KONDO RACING they have decided to go with a new combination with Daiki Sasaki, who was active last year in the GT300 NDDP GT-R, stepping up to join the experienced driver, Michael Krumm. Meanwhile, MOLA have formed the experienced driver combination of Masataka Yanagida and Satoshi Motoyama.
The official tests in March which consisted of 4 two hour sessions were blessed with good conditions and the cars were able to run the entire 8 hours on a dry track. With increased power and downforce the new vehicles have uniformly showed a boost in speed. Times have been recorded that are faster than the course record to date (1'22.404, marked by Michael Krumm in 2004 driving the Fairlady Z) as well as the “unofficial record” of 1 minute 21 seconds marked at last years official tests. The power of the GT-R showed stable speed with the # 12 Calsonic IMPUL GT-R and # 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R finishing in the overall top 3 and the # 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R also finishing in the top 5 for both days. Furthermore, the #46 S Road MOLA GT-R also maintained a steady pace throughout numerous laps and it appears that the team has been able to progress with the car's setup.
This season all GT500 class teams, including those of rival camps, will start side by side on the starting line under the new technical regulations, heralding in the start of a new era. That being said, all teams have been continuing to develop their vehicles during the off season and a faster, more competitive competition is expected, beginning from the opening round in Okayama, continuing right through the qualifying rounds, right up until the final. Of course, the hope that the GT-R will recapture the title is also continuing to grow.
On the other hand it will also be worth watching the GT300 class debut of the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 which is set to enter its third season. This season NDDP RACING partnered Kazuki Hoshino with the inaugural GT Academy winner, Lucas Ordóñez (Spain). Also, the number of private entries has increased by 5. Beginning from the # 3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R, the exuberance of the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 is expected and it can be said that the competition within the GT300 class will be the race highlight.