Round 7 of SUPER GT was held at Autopolis over the October 5-6 weekend. Handicap weights (success ballast) for this 300km event were halved for this round. In addition, in order to increase overall vehicle downforce, a new-shape front bumper was installed on the top two NISSAN GT-Rs in the points' standings.
However, official practice, scheduled for the morning of October 5th, was cancelled almost immediately due to bad weather influenced by typhoon #23. Though organizers waited until the afternoon for conditions to improve, it was decided that qualifying would take place in a 25-minute session on Sunday morning. Moreover, the time set by either the A or B driver would be deemed the official time.
Conditions on Sunday morning were couldy and partly sunny. Official qualifying for the GT500 cars was a 25-minute session held from 9:25. With a handicap weight of only 7kgs, the #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Michael Krumm) entered by KONDO RACING had Yasuda on track. Among the 15 cars, 12 set new track records, and the #24 machine would start in 11th.
TEAM IMPUL's #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Joao Paolo de Oliveira) was saddled with 46kgs of 'weight handi'. Oliveira took the wheel for qualifying. The last ten minutes saw drizzle falling, but despite the conditions, Oliveira planted the car fifth on the grid.
The MOLA-entered #1 REITO MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Yuhi Sekiguchi) was carrying 20kgs' success ballast. Motoyama took on attack driver duties in qualifying. With a violent push in the dying moments of the session, Motoyama secured fourth place on the starting grid.
NISMO's #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli) had a handicap weight of 44kgs onboard. Quintarelli took the wheel for the attack in qualifying. His satisfying run saw him record a best time of 1 minute, 38.333 seconds, agonizingly close to the top time, but not enough for pole. He finished second, earning a place on the front row.
In the GT300 class, expectations were high for the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3, which featured increased turbo boost pressure in the most recent BoP (Balance of Performance). The NDDP RACING-entered #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Daiki Sasaki) took pole position with an excellent time of 1 minute, 47.222 seconds in qualifying.
Driving the #48 DIJON Racing IS GT-R (Hiroshi Takamori/Katsumasa Chiyo) Chiyo took second place, giving GT-R entries a lockout of the front row. The #30 IWASAKI OGT Racing GT-R (Yuki Iwasaki/Igor Sushko) took fifth, while Shirasaka in the #360 RUN UP GROUP GT-R (Takuya Shirasaka/Atsushi Tanaka) was 17th, and the TEAM MACH-entered #5 Mach GoGoGo Shaken GT-R (Tetsuji Tamanaka/Junichiro Yamashita) with Tamanaka at the wheel, took 18th.
The 65-lap race started at 2:04pm. The weather was mostly cloudy, with occasional sunshine and rain, and a temperature of 20°C. The starting drivers were Quintarelli in the #23 GT-R, Motoyama in the #1 GT-R, Matsuda in the #12 GT-R, and Yasuda in the #24 GT-R.
The #12 GT-R started fifth, and Matsuda drove superbly, advancing to second place by lap 10. He entered the pit and handed over to Oliveira on lap 30, but at the second hairpin on lap 33, Oliveira spun and crashed into the guardrail. Despite quickly returning to the track, he went off again at the end of the straight. He was somehow able to make it back to the pit, but was unable to return to the race and had to retire.
The #23 GT-R of Quintarelli dropped a wheel into the dirt on lap 10, falling to fourth place, but he maintained that position until heading to the pit on lap 29 to hand over to Yanagida. However, there was a violation during the pit stop, and the team was handed a drive-through penalty, causing the car to fall to seventh. They fell another place in the final stage of the race, finishing eighth. The team held their ground in the battle for the championship.
Yasuda started in 11th place in the #24 GT-R, rising to eighth by lap 11, before making an early pit stop on lap 25. Krumm had advanced to sixth place just 11 laps later on lap 36, and thrilled the fans by then climbing further up to fifth. He fell back to sixth in the final stages of the race, but thee team earned valuable points for the second race in a row.
Piloting the #1 GT-R, Motoyama had risen to third place by lap 3, and maintained that position until lap 30 when he came into the pit. The team dropped one position during the pit stop, but Sekiguchi was able to climb as far as second place by lap 36. He was overtaken by two cars in the final stage of the race, missing the podium, but finished fourth, the highest placing among the GT-Rs.
Driving the GT300-class pole-sitting #3 GT-R, Sasaki managed tire wear and controlled his pace, falling to second, but maintained that position until he made his routine stop on lap 26. In the second half, Hoshino was steadily closing the gap to the top-placed machine when the car suddenly stopped on lap 37 due to an electrical problem. This resulted in a disappointing retirement from the race.
Among the GT300-class GT-Rs, the #30 GT-R finished sixth, earning their first points with the new driver lineup. Sushko, who drove at Autopolis for the first time in this race, said, “It was really fun. I like this track,” clearly unable to conceal his pleasure. The #48 GT-R finished 17th, the #5 GT-R was 22nd, and the #360 GT-R completed the race with a 23rd-place finish.