May 22, 2014


2014 SUPER GT Round 3 Preview

Round 3 of the 2014 SUPER GT season, the SUPER GT in KYUSHU 300km, will be held over May 31st and June 1st at Autopolis in Hita, Oita Prefecture which is just on the border with Kumamoto. Until last year this race had been the 2nd to last race of the season, frequently making it an integral race in the battle for the championship. However, this year the race calendar's configuration has been rearranged to place this event at the middle stages of the season in the midst of spring's fresh greenery. However, there is no doubt that this will become a key event for further developing these new machines and expanding the advantages gained into mid season battles.

The biggest talking point of this SUPER GT season is, of course, the simultaneous model change of all GT500 vehicles. Nissan has created the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 with 4 machines being driven by a total of 4 teams with NISMO's #23 “MOTUL AUTECH GT-R” (Tsugio Matsuda / Ronnie Quintarelli) at the head, followed by TEAM IMPUL's #12 “Calsonic IMPUL GT-R” (Hironobu Yasuda / Joao Paolo de Oliveira), KONDO RACING's #24 “D'station ADVAN GT-R” (Michael Krumm / Daiki Sasaki), and MOLA's #46 “S Road MOLA GT-R” (Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida). Furthermore, the tires to be used haven't changed, with the #46 and #23 riding on Michelin, the #12 wearing Bridgestone and the #24 sporting Yokohama. At the previous round in Fuji, the GT-R dominated the qualifying rounds when it took the top 3 positions and from then on continued to run at a superior pace in the final race. The #12 “Calsonic IMPUL GT-R” achieved an overwhelming victory which has demonstrated early on the strength and speed of this new machine.

Autopolis, which is located at the foot of Mt Aso's outer rim and, with large variations in height, is characterized by a European style course layout that is suited to the NISSAN GT-R's phenomenal speed in the corners and straights. Although it has been redesigned, the character of the NISSAN GT-R is immutable. In late April a joint test of tire manufacturers was carried out where the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, #12 Calsonic IMPUL GT-R and the #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R took part and all three recorded a string of good times leaving them completely prepared for the real deal. Although the #46 REITO MOLA GT-R didn't join the tests, they have exchanged data with the #23 which is also riding on Michelin tires and so there are no concerns regarding their readiness for the race. However, the situation has somewhat changed at the last minute. There are two types of specs for this season's new machine, the specs for normal circuits and those for Fuji Speedway. The fact that the specs for normal circuits have excessive down force and a cornering speed that is deemed too fast has led some to the opinion that it is dangerous. Consequently the GT Association (GTA) has announced in a bulletin (official notice) that at Autopolis and Sugo, the Fuji specs with less down force are to be used. This means that they are no longer able to use the wealth of data that has been accumulated at normal circuits. Furthermore, with the overall renewal of vehicles this season it has become especially difficult to assess the power dynamics with rival teams. Through persevering with development, cars that up until now have been in a slump may suddenly surprise us with unexpected speed. Lexus, having allowed the NISSAN GT-R to take victory on its home course, will be vying for an opportunity to hit back. At the same time we can't discount the possibility that Honda, which has been in a slump the last two races, will stage a comeback. Still, results achieved by the Fuji spec NISSAN GT-R in round 2, where it overwhelmed the competition, have proven its speed and power. Having displayed breathtaking speed at Fuji, please keep a look out for how much power these Fuji specs will show at the mountain course of Autopolis.

Although there are many instances of spots only being open to the GT500 cars, please don't miss out on the GT300 action. Despite the GT300 being viewed as a showdown between the FIA-GT3 and the JAF-GT, the competition within the FIA-GT3 has been becoming evermore fierce. Of course the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3s, now making up the majority of GT300 vehicles, have not only increased in numbers but have enhanced their team lineups. The #3 “B-MAX NDDP GT-R” has partnered Kazuki Hoshino with the first graduate of the GT Academy, Lucas Ordonez. Furthermore, included within the 5 NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 teams is the top team of TAISAN that has won the championship a number of times. The fact that this is a mountain course suited to the NISSAN GT-R has increased the expectations it will take victory at this race.

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