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Nissan Z NISMO GT500s score points in opening round of 2024 Super GT

Nissan/NISMO GT500 teams adopt Nissan Z NISMO as new base vehicle
Two red machines, #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z  with #3 Niterra MOTUL Z behind are driving.

 

YOKOHAMA, Japan – The 2024 Super GT Series kicked off at the Okayama International Circuit last weekend. Under new executive director, Shinichi Kiga, and with major driver line-up changes, the Nissan/NISMO teams set out with an aim to reclaim the GT500 class championship title.

For the 2024 season, the Nissan/NISMO teams have adopted Nissan Z NISMO as their base vehicle bringing changes to the body profile, enhanced aero performance and optimized cooling.

This season, the #3 Niterra Motul Z (Mitsunori Takaboshi/Atsushi Miyake) and the #23 Motul Autech Z (Katsumasa Chiyo/Ronnie Quintarelli), as well as the #12 Marreli Impul Z (Kazuki Hiramine/Bertrand Baguette) are equipped with Bridgestone tires, and the #24 Realize Corporation Advan Z (Tsugio Matsuda/Teppei Natori) will compete with Yokohama tires. These four cars will participate in all eight rounds of the series with new lineups and combinations.

After a weekend marked by warm weather and close racing, the #23 Motul Autech Z finished in fifth place and the #3 Niterra Motul Z finished in sixth. Both cars securing valuable points and significant progress from collecting data on Bridgestone tires.

 

Detailed race report:

Qualifying

In the qualifying session, using the combined times of Q1 and Q2, the highest-placed Nissan Z NISMO GT500 was the #23 Z in 6th position.

There were changes to the qualifying format this season. Instead of the traditional knockout format, the positions were determined by the combined best times of each driver in Q1 and Q2. Also, the number of tires allowed per car was reduced by one set, and the same set of tires had to be used for Q1, Q2, and the race start, adding a layer of difficulty to the qualifying and race strategy.

In Q1, where new tires could be used, Chiyo in the #23 Z marked the top time of 1 minute 17.489 seconds. His time was a strong indication of the potential for the Nissan Z NISMO GT500 in the 2024 season. Hiramine in the #12 Z took the seventh position with a time of 1 minute 18.033 seconds, Takaboshi in the #3 Z placed ninth with a time of 1 minute 18.133 seconds, and Natori in the #24 Z finished 12th with a time of 1 minute 18.484 seconds.

In Q2, the attention was on lap times and the number of laps completed on the tires used in Q1. Miyake in the #3 Z marked the best time of 1 minute 18.301 seconds on the third lap, finishing Q2 in fifth position. Baguette in the #12 Z secured the ninth position with a time of 1 minute 18.515 seconds on the fourth lap, Quintarelli in the #23 Z finished 10th with a time of 1 minute 18.757 seconds on the fourth lap, and Matsuda in the No.24 Z finished 12th with a time of 1 minute 18.861 seconds on the fourth lap. As a result of combining the times from Q1 and Q2, the #23 Z took sixth place, the #3 Z finished seventh, the #12 Z claimed ninth place, and the #24 Z placed 12th, finalizing the qualifying positions.

 

 

Race

As the sun shone bright on Okayama International Circuit, temperatures rose steadily from mid-morning, reaching 26 degrees Celsius, with the track temperature reaching 39 degrees Celsius, creating conditions reminiscent of summer for the race.

A two-lap formation lap proceeded the start of the 82-lap race. On the first lap, Quintarelli in the #23 Z collided with other car at the first corner, putting him in ninth position. The #12 Z driven by Baguette also suffered damage from contact with another car. Amid the confusion caused by spinning cars and multiple accidents, the Safety Car (SC) was deployed from the first lap onwards, to permit recovery of the stranded cars. At the conclusion of the first lap, the #3 Z driven by Takaboshi held fifth position, the damaged #12 Z was in sixth position, the #23 Z, which lost positioning due to contact, was in ninth position, and the #24 Z driven by Natori moved up to 10th position due to the withdrawal of two cars involved in accidents, with the procession of cars under SC lead.

After completing four laps behind the SC, the #12 Z pitted to repair damage and returned to the track in 13th position. As a result, the #23 Z moved up to eighth place and the #24 Z to ninth place. The SC withdrew after seven laps, and the race resumed on lap eight.

The #3 Z engaged in a tight battle within the group fighting for second place. Meanwhile, the #23 Z managed to stay in eighth place while navigating through GT300 cars that were a lap behind. After completing 30 laps, the #3 Z pitted, with Miyake taking the wheel. Likewise, the #23 Z pitted after completing 31 laps, with Chiyo taking over driving duties. The #3 Z returned to the track in seventh place, while the #23 Z was in 10th place. The #23 Z, which began its charge, gained position on the 33rd and 34th laps, rising to eighth place. Due to pit stops by cars ahead, by the 36th lap, the #3 Z was in sixth place and the #23 Z was in seventh.

On the 43rd lap, the #23 Z passed the #3 Z, resulting in a position swap, with the #23 Z moving into sixth place and the #3 Z in seventh, aiming for strong positions in the final stage of the race. After completing 52 laps, the leading car, which had delayed its pit stop, finally entered the pits. At the point when all GT500 class cars had completed their pit stops, the #23 Z was in fifth place, and the #3 Z was in sixth, both mixed up in tight battles.

However, overtaking on the crowded track proved difficult. On the 65th lap, a car stopped on the track, leading to a full-course yellow (FCY). As a result, no position gains were made, and the 82-lap race concluded. The #23 Z finished in fifth place, and the #3 Z in sixth, both cars securing valuable points.

The #12 Z, which suffered a significant drop in positions due to a pit stop following an accident on the first lap, managed to pick up the pace in the latter part of the race and finished just outside the points in 11th place. Struggling with pace, the #24 Z finished the opening race in 12th place and is looking to make a comeback in the upcoming races.

 

 

Katsumasa Chiyo (#23 Motul Autech Z)

"Ronnie's start felt quite good, but it was unfortunate that he got involved in an accident shortly afterward, causing him to lose position. I think it's a positive thing that I was able to stay calm and drive consistently until the end while adapting to the new Bridgestone tires, and I was able to compete hard in the race. However, towards the end, the tires cooled down during the FCY, and I couldn't pick up the pace to regain a higher position. I feel that addressing this issue is a challenge. Nevertheless, we were able to gather a lot of tire data, and I believe it was a very successful race in terms of learning for the future."

 

Ronnie Quintarelli (#23 Motul Autech Z)

"I couldn't avoid the accident right after the start, but I'm glad neither I nor the other driver spun out. After that, I took good care of the tires and drove patiently. In the latter part of the race, Chiyo did his best, and we even managed to get into a position where we could possibly get on the podium. However, finishing in fifth place this time, I have no reason not to be satisfied. Looking at it from the perspective of success weight, we can expect a good situation for the next race. The next one at Fuji is a special race for me as I can race in front of many fans, so I'll try for a good result.”

 

GT300 Class

In the GT300 class, four Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed, and all four completed the race. The #56 Realize Nissan Mechanic Challenge GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) demonstrated strength by Sasaki making an early pit stop after the race started and Oliveira doing a good job to manage the tires in the latter half of the race to climb into the points range. However, due to a post-race penalty, they finished in 15th place.

 

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