On May 3rd and 4th, Round 2 of SUPER GT took place at Fuji Speedway, the first time in four years it had been run as a 500km event. Among the NISSAN entries, just like in the season-opener, there were four GT-Rs in GT500, while one car participated in the GT300 class. Although this is an annual Golden Week event, it unfortunately rained on qualifying day. However, this did eventually abate.
Aerodynamic parts designed specifically for Fuji were prepared for the GT-Rs contesting the GT500 class. Even higher attachments were installed on both sides of the headlights, and the under panel was also altered. Furthermore, large mirrors were installed. In addition, it has been decided that from this year the attack drivers for the first qualifying session and Super Lap cannot overlap.
In the GT300 Class, NDDP RACING's #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) saw Chiyo place fourth in the first qualifying session, allowing him to advance to Super Lap (SL). In SL, Sekiguchi's time placed him second, but during the car inspection after qualifying, a flaw in the induction system was pointed out and the time was disqualified. It was decided that the car would start from ninth on the grid.
The first qualifying session for the GT500 class started in light rain and a temperature of 17°C. KONDO RACING's Bjorn Wirdheim was in charge of the #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Björn Wirdheim) for this session. However, with the wet conditions the tyres didn't match the track surface, and he ended up 13th, meaning the team couldn't advance to SL.
In TEAM IMPUL's #12 Calsonic IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/João Paulo de Oliveira), Matsuda recorded the 2nd-quickest time in first qualifying, but experienced engine trouble immediately after and so had to change engines. Despite making the cut, he didn't enter SL and it was decided that he would start from tenth on the grid.
As for MOLA's #1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli), Yanagida came 9th in the first qualifying session, advancing to SL. Though the rain stopped, wet conditions prevailed throughout SL with Quntarelli recording the seventh-best time, earning him the seventh place on the starting grid.
In NISMO's #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm), Krumm succeeded in changing tyres during first qualifying, and recorded the top time. Motoyama, experiencing difficult track surface conditions, finished fourth. This put the pair highest among the GT-R-equipped teams, starting the race from the second row.
The weather on the 4th of May was unstable, being cloudy with occasional drizzle. Both the atmospheric and track surface temperatures were at 21°C when the cars lined up on the grid. A large amount of NISSAN supporters took up positions in the stands. On that day, over 57,000 fans crammed into Fuji, leading to some instances of traffic jams.
Rain began to fall just before the 110-lap race was set to start, and under the guidance of the safety car (SC), the race began at exactly 14:00. However, the rain gradually fell harder and harder, leading to great confusion in the pits as competitors dove in one after another to change to rain tyres. At the end of the third lap, the SC left the front of the ranks, and the real battle began.
Starting ninth in the #3 GT-R (GT300 class), Yuhi Sekiguchi picked off the cars ahead of him one after another, steadily moving up so that by lap 30 he was in 2nd place. However, at the first corner on lap 32 he ran wide and had to return to the pit. Though forced to spend a lot of time in the pit garage because of brake troubles, his teammate Chiyo managed his first finish, with 18th place.
Yasuda was in charge of the start for the #24 GT-R, which was 13th in qualifying. He had difficulty picking up the pace and entered the pit on lap 30 to hand the car over to Wirdheim. However, some body panels got destroyed after the right rear tyre burst, and the car had to make an unplanned pit stop on lap 72 when running in 8th position. After the machine was fixed in the garage, Yasuda went back out on and finished in 14th place.
The #1 GT-R, starting from 7th spot, had to make an emergency pit stop as they were getting some vibrations from the wheels after they switched back to slick tires on lap 11. As a result, they lost a number of positions. Yanagida climbed back up the order during the middle of the race and then switched back to Quintarelli. However a huge accident occurred while they were running in 8th, and they went a lap down when the safety car came out. They finished in seventh place.
Oliveira moved up to fifth place in the #12 GT-R on lap six, before making his pit stop on lap 21 while leading, having run on rain tyres the entire time. Matsuda rose to the top spot on lap 46, made a careful second pit stop while the safety car was out, on lap 65, and climbed back to the top again by lap 84. However, they made an unscheduled pit stop to change to rain tyres as it began to rain towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, the rain stopped shortly thereafter and they finished fifth.
Motoyama drove the #23 GT-R at the beginning of the race, concentrating on not getting caught up in the chaos at the start, whilst taking third place after having started fourth. He made his pit stop on lap 41, handing over to Michael Krumm. Motoyama fell to fourth after taking care of the second pit stop on lap 83, but re-emerged in third towards the end of the race (lap 104), a position he was able to keep to the chequered flag. With the result, the team claimed their first podium of the season.
“I was so focused in the beginning that I don't remember the development of the race. We wanted to win, but considering that we are competing for the championship, third isn't bad.” (Motoyama) “I'm disappointed that the Nissan cars couldn't win, but we were able to get on the podium. The next round is at Sepang, which I really like so please look forward to our performance there.” (Krumm)