Rd.7 Autopolis 29 - 30 September
The #1 car won and #24 finished third on the podium in Round 5 Suzuka 1000km, and in the following Round 6 at Fuji, the #12 car came out on top and #1 second. We got both a win and podium position in the last two races, which makes it obvious that NISSAN is on a different tide from the first half of the season. We would like to race at Autopolis keeping this momentum. In fact, the NISSAN GT-R suits the Autopolis circuit. NISSAN won here in 2008 -the debut year for the R35 GT-R (with #23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama and Benoit Treluyer). And 2nd in 2009 (with #1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, with a 63kg of weight handicap, driven by Motoyama and Treluyer). There was no Autopolis round in 2010, but last year, we won here again (with #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Motoyama and Treluyer).
As a result of the Fuji race, the #1 car moved to the top of the rankings with its second place finish and the #12 car which won the race is currently lying in fourth with the same points as the third-placed car in the rankings. GT-Rs looked to be dominant in that race, but if we had been passed by #19 SC430, which is light and whose tyres match the surface, it might have been difficult to turn the race around. They managed good results thanks to the drivers' perseverance and their wonderful pit work. The atmosphere of all teams of cars #12 and #1 is good and I expect this atmosphere will continue.
In the previous races, weight handicaps were points times 2kg, but at Autopolis, they will be points times 1kg, reduced by a half. And in the final round at Motegi, there'll be no handicap, so from now on, competition will purely be based on speeds and I think we can expect GT-Rs to do well.
The #23 car is lying 9th in the ranking. In qualifiers, it comes in a good position from which they can aim for a podium finish in the final race, but things like setups don't go well in the final. In the joint test held in the middle of September at Motegi, the team focused on setups intended for a final race and a good base setting was found. In the past few years, there has been no driving Friday and so, the initial setup brought onto the circuit with the car has been important. The setting should be good from the start because there's not much time to adjust it. At Autopolis, I think we can expect a good result from the #23 car which did very well last year. I would also like to give an eye to the effort of #24.
Meanwhile, for the #3 car in the GT300 class, the weight handicap won't be reduced (but will still be points times 2 kg) and the car will still have weight (of points times 1kg) in the final race too according to the rules. This will be a disadvantage compared with their rivals, but they have a big chance to become a champion and I expect that they will overcome this handicap and fight for the championship.