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Race report
Super GT Suzuka

Super GT Suzuka: New Nissan Z dominates for first GT500 win

NISMO duo Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi claimed a maiden Super GT victory for the new Nissan Z with a commanding drive at Suzuka, as BMW took top honours in the GT300 class.

Just over a fortnight after Takaboshi's horrifying crash at Fuji Speedway, which required Nissan to rebuild the car around a spare chassis, Chiyo aced the start of Sunday’s 300km race to lay the foundations for both his and Takaboshi’s first victory in the GT500 ranks.

  • Stream every qualifying session and race of the 2022 SUPER GT season only on Motorsport.tv.

Lining up third in the #3 Michelin-shod Nissan Z, the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour winner eased past the #37 TOM’S Toyota GR Supra of Sacha Fenestraz into Turn 1 and then made a brave pass over Yuji Kunimoto’s Bandoh Toyota at the high-speed 130R to end the opening lap in the lead of the race.

An early Full Course Yellow for Bertrand Baguette’s stranded Impul Nissan and a full-blown Safety Car on lap 11 of 52 following a crash for a Honda GT300 car did throw a spanner in the works, but Chiyo’s position was never threatened as he remained comfortable out front.

TOM’S tried to undercut the Nissan by bringing in Fenestraz to the pits on lap 19 of 52 to hand over the car to teammate Ritomo Miyata, but such was Chiyo’s lead that he could make his stop two laps later and still allow teammate Takaboshi to emerge from the pitlane comfortably in front.

A late safety car on lap 40 following an incident for the #244 Max Racing Toyota GT300 car wiped out the healthy lead Takaboshi had built since taking over the driving duties from Chiyo, but the 29-year-old made a perfect restart after the SC retreated with nine laps to go en route to a comfortable win.

It marked the first victory for the new Nissan Z GT500 contender in only its third start in the category, as well as the fourth successive win for the Yokohama-based manufacturer at Suzuka following its double triumph in 2020 and another victory in last year’s event.

Second place in the race went to the Real Racing Honda of Nobuharu Matsushita and Koudai Tsukakoshi, which got a jump on the #37 TOM’S Toyota crew of Fenestraz and Miyata by pitting a lap later.

Matsushita had earlier moved up from fifth to third in the first stint, passing the Mugen Honda of Ukyo Sasahara and the struggling Yokohama-shod Bandoh Toyota of Yuji Kunimoto.

SARD Toyota was the last GT500 team to complete its mandatory stop, and having timed it just before a FCY, it finished in an impressive fourth place with drivers Yuichi Nakayama and Yuhi Sekiguchi.

Kunimoto and Sena Sakaguchi were able to secure a season-best result of fifth in the Bandoh Toyota despite their struggles on the Yokohama tyre, finishing ahead of Kohei Hirate and Daiki Sasaki in the Kondo, which made a late pass over the ARTA Honda of Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi for sixth.

Rookie Racing Toyota duo Kazuya Oshima and Kenta Yamashita, who arrived at Suzuka as the championship leaders, bagged some healthy points in eighth, while the top 10 was completed by Kunimitsu Honda’s Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino and #36 TOM’S crew comprising Giualino Alesi and Sho Tsuboi - the latter recovering from a drive through to claim the final championship point.

#7 Studie BMW M4

#7 Studie BMW M4

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

First win for BMW M4

Team Studie delivered a first GT300 victory for the new BMW M4 GT3 at Suzuka, with Le Mans 24 Hours winner Seiji Ara and Tsubasa Kondo converting pole position into a fine lights-to-flag win.

Ara took advantage of the battling #96 K-Tunes Lexus RC F GT3 of Morio Nitta and the #56 Kondo Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Kiyoto Fujinami to remain at front in the first stint, even though he was not able to pull away from the chasing pack.

Following the pitstops, Ara’s teammate Kondo did come under pressure from Reiji Hiraki in the the #5 Team Mach Toyota 86 car, which had leapt to second with an early stop on lap 16.

But Kondo, replacing Augusto Farfus in BMW’s line-up at Suzuka, was able to defend from Hiraki on cold tyres to hold on to the lead, just as Hiroki Yoshida made it a three-way battle for victory in the #52 Saitama Toyopet Toyota GR Supra.

After the late safety car a nine-lap dash to the finish followed, but Kondo was able to deliver the goods to claim a nine-second victory in the #7 BMW he shares with Ara.

Second place went to Hiraki and Taiyo Ida in the Mach Toyota, with the first-named able to resist a late attack from Fujinami’s teammate Joao Paulo de Oliveira to secure the runner-up spot on the podium.

Although Oliveira couldn’t make a move on Hiraki, a third-place finish with 66kg of success ballast boosted his and Fujinami’s hopes of a second GT300 title in three years as they extended their lead at the top of the standings.

Yoshida slipped down the order at the final restart in the #52 Saitama Toyopet Toyota, eventually finishing fourth in the car he shares with Kohta Kawaai.

Subaru’s lack of straightline speed hurt its prospects after a technical issue in qualifying left it in the midfield, with Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi only able to recover to 12th in the #61 BRZ GT300 car.

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