Rd.4 Sportsland SUGO 19 - 20 July

Nissan set to steadily grab points at the “demon's lair”, SUGO

It has already been over a month since the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 dominated the podium at Autopolis. Due to last round's result, the #12 has been saddled with a handicap weight of 84kg (50kg equivalent fuel restrictor + 34kg of weight) and the 4th ranking #23 has been loaded with 54kg (50kg equivalent fuel restrictor + 4kg of weight) portending a tough race for these cars at SUGO with its two up-down straights.

The #46 has also been laden with 32kg of weight, but I think the fact that they haven't been assigned a fuel restrictor will prove to be somewhat advantageous. Also Michelin's summer tires are particularly suited to SUGO, something we were also able to confirm at Autopolis.

Although it has been decided that the cars are to use low down force aero parts due to safety concerns, our machines displayed both exceptional speed and cornering at Autopolis and I am certain that they will hold their own against their rivals at SUGO. Furthermore, we have confirmed that the improved engine characteristics put the car a cut above the competition in medium-low speed corners and we have great hopes that the #46 can take a consecutive podium finish.

At the same time I also feel that the time is ripe for the #24 to take a top placing finish. The machine gave us a glimpse of its speed at the joint tests held at Suzuka the other day and with a handicap weight of only 16kg, I'm sure they will be able to carry out a competitive race. I have high expectations that Nissan is going to take a corner of the podium. Of course I am sure the teams and drivers are also hungry for results.

SUGO is said to be the “demon's lair.” The course width is narrow, overtaking is difficult, the summer heat is hard on the tires, the weather can change suddenly, and so on and so forth. Numerous elements come together to create an unpredictable race in which anything can happen. At last year's race, although all four vehicles were making a hard fight for top place in the closing stages, incidents such as involvement in crashes and burst tires saw them all retire within four laps. Therefore, it is essential that the teams don't let down their guard at all and ensure that they take as many points as possible. In particular, even if the top ranking #12 and #23 qualify towards the rear, as long as they successfully achieve a complete race they should be able to naturally grab points. That said, Honda has been getting steadily faster in recent tests and so we need to keep a close eye on them as well.

This race at SUGO, the next round at Fuji (which was until now held in September) and the Suzuka 1000km have been centralized into 3 races to be held over the summer vacation and I'm sure we are set to see some big changes. Please keep a particular eye out for how cars on Michelin tires perform as they are especially well suited to the hot summer conditions.

The GT-Rs in the GT300 have been struggling a little this year and we have yet to see them stand on the podium. However, SUGO is a course that very much suits the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3. It is set to be a difficult race but I am very optimistic that we will see some great drives that put them on the podium.