Video: Dustin St. Hilaire
Round 2 of the 2012 SUPER GT series, the “FUJI GT 500km RACE” is set to take place on May 3rd and 4th at Fuji Speedway. The Fuji SUPER GT round has become synonymous with Golden Week, and fans will be flocking to witness the beginning of the season’s competition in eastern Japan.
With no official SUPER GT pre-season test at Fuji Speedway, it is difficult to gauge the difference in performance between the NISSAN GT-R and its rivals – but because the cars’ air restrictors have been increased in size by two ranks (in accordance with the Regulations), all machines are expected to record better times on Fuji Speedway’s long straights. It is anticipated that the track record of 1:32:481, set by Ronnie Quintarelli in 2011, might be broken during official qualifying.
As for the unfolding of the race itself, a duel is likely to develop between the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (NISMO), hoping to seize the title, and the #1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (MOLA), aiming for their second consecutive victory at the track. The latter leveraged the performance of their Michelin tyres in 2011 and are no strangers to speed. However, in the wet conditions of the race, the former displayed their power and took the win. Of particular interest this time out is the race distance, increased to its traditional 500kms (compared to 400kms last year), so the racing expertise of NISMO is expected to come into play. Of course, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (IMPUL), which uses the same package as NISMO, and the #24 D’station ADVAN GT-R (KONDO RACING), who have had strong showings at Fuji in previous years, are not to be overlooked.
The NISSAN GT-R was an overpowering force in SUPER GT last year, taking victory in five of the season’s eight races. Their rivals are obviously not just standing around twiddling their thumbs, however. Lexus in particular, for whom Fuji Speedway is considered the maker’s home track, has taken up the “No defeat at Fuji!” slogan as their rallying cry, and seem to have spent the off-season intensely developing their car. The other rival is Honda, the manufacturer making steady improvements to their machine in their effort to conquer Fuji, a circuit where they have fared poorly in the past. Despite Fuji being known as a high-speed circuit, it does have its technical sections and this can play to the advantages of the GT-R, which aims to be a superior all-around racing machine.
Furthermore, it looks as though we can expect performance from the GT-R in the GT300 class, renowned for the large number of powerful European machines in its ranks, as well. As the only Japanese-made GT3 spec machine, the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 has already proven its speed by setting the fastest lap on its domestic racing debut in Okayama. With Fuji Speedway’s long straights as the stage, it is all the more likely that the speed of the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R will draw attention.