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The solutions that SUPER GT’s Fuji return guarantees to offer

The solutions that SUPER GT’s Fuji return guarantees to offer

Not solely that, but it surely additionally guarantees to offer some a lot wanted hints about how the remainder of the 2022 marketing campaign is more likely to unfold.

Actually, provided that we’ve principally solely had two-and-a-half races thus far, with little in the way in which of constant performers throughout them, it’s been arduous to be overly sure about which groups are more likely to be within the hunt when the title lastly will get determined at Motegi in November. 

For what it’s price, a fast recap: the primary three races of the season thus far have been received by three completely different producers, with Toyota (Okayama), Honda (Fuji) and Nissan (Suzuka) all having a single victory apiece underneath their belts. To make issues much more egalitarian, all three races thus far have featured a prime three comprising a single automotive from every model.

Should you had been to tot up a notional ‘producers’ standings’ primarily based on the highest two outcomes of every producer per race, Toyota leads on 57 factors, with Nissan on 51.5 and Honda on 49. But when pushed to choose which automotive seems to have an edge over the competitors, the early proof would possibly simply lead you to position your cash on Nissan and its all-new Z.

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

In fact, we are able to’t say with certainty what would have occurred had the Fuji 450km Golden Week race in Might gone the complete distance as an alternative of being lower brief by Mitsunori Takaboshi’s terrifying crash on the wheel of the #3 NDDP Racing Z.

However, provided that Takaboshi was pressuring Yuhi Sekiguchi’s SARD Toyota on the time of the incident, there’s a strong likelihood that he and Katsumasa Chiyo would have ended up celebrating their first victory in GT500 at that observe, as an alternative of simply a few weeks later at Suzuka.

Admittedly, NDDP’s Suzuka win was made simpler by a) different vehicles having extra (however not rather more, due to half-points) success ballast, and b) taking a recent engine penalty-free. However such was the #3 automotive’s dominance that even when that they had arrived at Suzuka with a stage one gasoline restrictor and older engine, it’s important to assume they might have nonetheless scored strong factors.

Takaboshi and Chiyo’s victory has put them to the highest of the standings, simply over the factors threshold for a power-sapping stage one gasoline stream restrictor this weekend at Fuji. They’re equal with Rookie Racing Toyota pair Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima, who received the opener at Okayama and have bagged some extra minor factors within the two races since.

Logic would dictate that these two vehicles will battle with their gasoline restrictors. However over a 450km race during which two stops are necessary, tyre technique and longevity can be key, particularly with temperatures more likely to be within the area of 30 levels Celsius. The sturdy prime velocity of the Z and GR Supra means passing on Fuji’s lengthy fundamental straight normally isn’t too arduous.

If Takaboshi and Chiyo discover their Michelins working effectively within the warmth, one other top-five end or maybe even a sniff of the rostrum can’t be dominated out. If they’ll do one thing related three weeks later at Suzuka – additionally a 450km occasion that’s more likely to be run in extremely popular circumstances, and on the observe the place the Z is thought to carry out – it will put the #3 pair in good stead certainly.

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With solely extra race (Sugo) to outlive after that earlier than the success weight begins coming off from the penultimate spherical at Autopolis, there’s no clearly higher contender for the ‘title favorite’ label at this stage.

That stated, Yamashita and Oshima have earlier kind on the subject of defying the success ballast odds at Fuji, and as SARD confirmed in Might, a well-timed full-course yellow or security automotive can all the time remodel the fortunes of a automotive that doesn’t seem to have the uncooked velocity.

Subsequent within the standings are Honda’s three Bridgestone-shod NSX-GTs, with Workforce Kunimitsu (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino), Actual Racing (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Nobuharu Matsushita) and ARTA (Tomoki Nojiri/Nirei Fukuzumi) set to hold 40kg, 36kg and 30kg respectively. Hardly a assist, granted, however not a dealbreaker in a protracted, sizzling race, both.

It was the ARTA automotive that received the final Fuji race in what can solely be known as weird circumstances. Nojiri and Fukuzumi had been promoted to 3rd on the street following Takaboshi’s race-ending crash to the highest step of the rostrum, as each the SARD and TOM’S Toyota GR Supras that had been operating forward on the time of the pink flag took penalties.

ARTA chief engineer Ryan Dingle felt {that a} comparatively late, and lengthy first pitstop had put the #8 Honda in a robust place to leap forward of its rivals on the second spherical of stops. However he additionally made the admission that the NSX-GT’s further drag meant that passing a wholesome Toyota or Nissan alongside the straight was equally not a very probably proposition.

Issues could also be slightly completely different this time round given the additional warmth means much less dense air, and due to this fact much less of a straight line velocity dividend for low-drag vehicles. However all different issues being even, a Honda is more likely to have a more durable time recovering from a nasty grid place.

One other factor that the excessive temperatures may affect is technique, notably on the subject of double-stint the tyres, which was made a chance for the primary time within the Golden Week Fuji race because of SUPER GT’s determination to not mandate driver adjustments at each pitstop. Greater temperatures (and heavier vehicles) not solely makes managing tyres that rather more of a problem, it additionally makes tyre warm-up simpler, eradicating one of many key benefits of double-stinting technique: eliminating a gradual out lap on chilly tyres.

Within the Might race, a number of groups, together with ARTA, SARD and Racing Venture Bandoh, had been planning to forego tyre adjustments on the second spherical of stops, however due to the pink flag we by no means obtained to see the way it all would have performed out. However with two 450km races arising the place technique can be no less than as essential as velocity, getting all these name proper may find yourself being the distinction between being ready to struggle for the title and never.

There are a number of GT500 groups who may use an enormous consequence at Fuji. TOM’S and SARD know that is their final likelihood to financial institution massive factors at what stays probably the greatest tracks for the Toyota GR Supra, whereas NISMO pair Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda can be feeling strain to shut the hole within the standings to their Nissan colleagues Takaboshi and Chiyo and show they aren’t previous it.

Racing Venture Bandoh, the pole-winning group in Might, too can be hoping to benefit from sizzling temperatures at a observe the place its Yokohama tyre is confirmed to work effectively because it seeks to place an finish to a painful shedding streak courting again to the 2016 season.

Should you take into account issues from a race distance perspective, thus far we’ve not even had a 3rd of the season. The truncated Fuji race has restricted us to lower than 900km of operating thus far, however over the remaining 5 rounds, we’ve got a bumper 1800km of racing to look ahead to. 

By Sunday night, we must always have a clearer image of which producer actually has the sting on this most unusually tightly-contested of seasons.

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