Super GT keen to prevent Bridgestone whitewash after Michelin exit

Super GT says it will look into ways to help smaller tyre brands Yokohama and Dunlop against Bridgestone following Michelin’s decision to exit the GT500 class.

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Michelin stunned the paddock when it announced in May that this season will be its last competing in the Japanese series’ top category, a move that leaves Nissan’s two NISMO-run cars needing to find a different supplier for 2024.

Bridgestone currently supplies 10 of the 15 cars in the GT500 field, up from nine last season, and has already said it would be open to adding NISMO and sister squad NDDP Racing to its roster of partner teams.

Such a scenario would stack the odds overwhelmingly in favour of the firm, with Yokohama currently supplying only two cars, the Kondo Racing Nissan and Racing Project Bandoh Toyota, and Dunlop just one, the Nakajima Racing Honda.

Against such a backdrop, GTA chairman Masaaki Bandoh says he wants to take measures that will strengthen the tyre war and prevent Bridgestone from completely dominating next season onwards.

“It hasn’t been announced what tyre manufacturer the two cars currently using Michelins will use next year, but at the moment, Yokohama has only two cars and Dunlop one,” Bandoh told Autosport. 

“There is a minimum level in terms of marketing effect and the purpose of being involved to keep them involved in GT500, so going forward I’d like to discuss with each manufacturer how we can strengthen our cooperation in this area.

“I think there is a fear that, without Michelin, Bridgestone will be even stronger. This is something we have to discuss further with Yokohama and Dunlop.”

The use of sustainable materials in tyres has become an increasingly hot topic for tyre makers involved in global motorsport in recent years.

Racing Project Bandoh Toyota is one of just two cars running Yokohama tyres in GT500 this year

Racing Project Bandoh Toyota is one of just two cars running Yokohama tyres in GT500 this year

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Yokohama introduced a Super Formula tyre with a 33 percent reusable component in 2023, while Michelin has implemented a similar initiative for its World Endurance Championship tyres.

Bandoh said it's likely Super GT will follow a similar path in future seasons to help keep the remaining tyre makers invested.

“Of course this is something we should work on,” he said when asked about how renewable materials could play a role in Super GT tyres. 

“The reason we are making races longer, reducing the number of tyre sets [per weekend] and encouraging more durability is because we are already looking to move towards sustainability. But tyre competition itself will continue.”

Yokohama ended a seven-year win drought in the GT500 class last month at Suzuka as Bandoh Toyota pair Yuji Kunimoto and Sena Sakaguchi were ultimately declared the winners of a race that was shortened by a huge crash involving Nissan driver Tsugio Matsuda.

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