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Super GT Fuji II

Matsuda targets Fuji Super GT return after leaving hospital

Nissan driver Tsugio Matsuda is aiming to participate in next month’s Fuji Super GT round after finally leaving hospital following his horror crash at Suzuka.

Tsugio Matsuda, #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z

Matsuda's #23 NISMO Nissan Z was involved in a high-speed accident at the 130R corner that brought the third round of the season to a premature halt.

Matsuda had been trying to negotiate GT300 traffic at the time of the crash, getting tangled up with the apr Toyota GR86 of Manabu Orido and the JLOC Lamborghini Huracan of Kosuke Matsuura, which was also left badly damaged.

The 44-year-old was transported by air to hospital, with Nissan revealing he had escaped major injury in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Three days later, it was announced that Matsuda had been released from intensive care to continue his recovery in a regular hospital ward. However, no details were forthcoming on the exact nature of his injuries.

On Wednesday, Nissan revealed that Matsuda had finally been discharged from hospital more than six weeks on from the crash, and is aiming to be present for next month’s fourth round of the season at Fuji.

“The time I spent in hospital was painful and difficult, to the point I was almost in despair,” said Matsuda in a video message posted on Twitter by Nissan.

“But in that situation, the warm messages I received from fans helped me through a tough period of training and rehabilitation. 

“Now I want to focus on my rehabilitation and training with the fourth round of the season at Fuji in mind so I can race well in front of all the fans. I’m looking forward to being able to meet the fans again. Thanks for your support.”

#23 MOTUL AUTECH Z

#23 MOTUL AUTECH Z

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Matsuda and team-mate Ronnie Quintarelli currently sit third in the drivers’ standings on 25 points despite failing to score at Suzuka, having won the opening race of 2023 at Okayama.

They are 14 points behind TOM’S Toyota pair Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata, who took over at the head of the table by finishing second at Suzuka.

Matsuda was handed three penalty points by the stewards for his role in the accident that caused the Suzuka race to be abandoned with 58 of 77 laps completed.

Toyota squad Racing Project Bandoh was officially confirmed as the winner after an appeal by Nissan to have the NDDP Racing car's penalty overturned was rejected.

The #19 Toyota GR Supra shared by Yuji Kunimoto and Sena Sakaguchi kept the win they were promoted to following a 60-second time penalty for the Nissan shared by Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi.

The #3 NDDP Nissan of Chiyo and Takaboshi was leading when the race was red-flagged, but only by virtue of not having made both mandatory refuelling stops.

Initially the NDDP duo were named as the winners, but following a protest filed by almost every other team in the GT500 class, they were handed a 60-second penalty to compensate for the second stop they had yet to make, dropping them to fourth.

Nissan unsuccessfully protested the penalty, and then confirmed its intention to lodge an official appeal, leading to a week-long delay before the results of the Suzuka race could finally be confirmed.

Super GT boss Masaaki Bandoh has pledged that the series’ pitstop rules will be changed for Fuji following the controversy, amid calls from drivers to tighten up the regulations.

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