YOKOHAMA, Japan – Round 5 of the 2023 Super GT Series was held at Suzuka Circuit on August 27, with solid performances from the Nissan/NISMO camp. The #1 car secured 5th place, car #3 12th place – maintaining its series lead – and car #24 13th place.
Sitting at the top of the series rankings, the #3 Niterra MOTUL Z headed into the race as the top ranked Nissan, followed by the #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z in 4th. Also competing were the defending champion #1 MARELLI IMPUL Z, and the #24 REALIZE CORPORATION ADVAN Z.
The race kicked off under intense late summer heat and after an incident free clean start, it was strategic pit stops which would play a pivotal role in shaping the race's outcome. Early on, the #3 Z made a calculated pit stop after six laps to refuel and change tires. In lap 11, a GT300 class incident prompted a full course yellow (FCY), and the leading car exploited this to make a timely pit stop. The #24 Z attempted the same but a slight mistiming resulted in a 60-second penalty. The #23 Z seized the lead during the FCY and held it for seven laps. Meanwhile, the #1 Z moved up the ranks and consistent progress placed it in 5th by lap 12.
After 18 laps, the #23 Z made its first pit stop for refueling and tire changes. Despite momentarily dropping to 9th, after other cars pitted it regained 2nd position by lap 30. The #1 Z pitted after 27 laps, swapping drivers and aiming to push forward from 13th place. The #3 Z managed to make it up to 3rd for a time but struggled with tire wear due to its early pit, lost pace and slipped down the order. Its second pit stop wasn’t enough to make up for the lost time, and it was relegated it to the back of the pack.
The #23 Z steadily maintained 2nd position and narrowed the gap to the leader. A second pit stop on lap 42 saw a driver change to Tsugio Matsuda, and by lap 55, it was just 10 seconds behind the lead car and aiming to close the distance. The #1 Z, displaying a mix of aggression and consistency, claimed the lead on lap 48, then made a pit stop in lap 51, returning to the race in 8th place, gradually accelerating its pace. Solid passes then propelled it to 6th by lap 69.
Matsuda's #23 Z made strides towards the leader but couldn't completely overcome its 50kg success weight, and so maintained an around 10-second gap until the checkered flag on the 77th lap. The #1 Z clinched 6th place, while the #3 Z, also hampered by success weight, finished the race in 13th. Hurt by its pit stop penalty, the #24 Z finished 14th.
Unfortunately, during post-race inspection, a skid block regulation violation led to the #23 Z being disqualied. Subsequently, the official results shifted.
In the GT300 class, five Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed. The #56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R, ranked 2nd in the rankings, ran well despite carrying the maximum success weight of 100 kg, but had to retire due to vehicle trouble. The remaining four GT-Rs all completed the race.