Round 2 of the SUPER GT season, the Fuji 500km Race, is set to be held at Fuji Speedway in Japan over May 2 and 3. The new season kicked off four weeks ago at Okayama International Circuit, so this will be the first race this year to be held in Eastern Japan. Having become a Golden Week tradition, this "second season opener" is one SUPER GT race the fans are eager to see. With tests also carried out here in late March, all the teams are fully prepared to carry out a fierce battle.
In this, the second year under the new GT500 regulations, Nissan is aiming for a consecutive championship through its four teams. With defending champions Matsuda / Quintarelli in the #1 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R riding on Michelins, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R of Hironobu Yasuda / Joao Paulo De Oliveira sporting Bridgestones, and the #46 S Road MOLA GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama / Masataka Yanagida also sticking with Michelin, three of these are following directly on from last year with their respective formidable team packaging.
This truly is a strategy of going with the tried-and-tested "steady and immovable" champions. The only change is with the Yokohama equipped #24 D'station ADVAN GT-R, with Michael Krumm set to be absent from the first half of the season so that he can concentrate on the Le Mans project.
Taking his place, to partner up with Daiki Sasaki, is Lucas Ordonez (Spain) who engaged in full participation in the GT300 class last year. Krumm is scheduled to join back up with the team for the second half of the season.
Until the middle of the opening round, the #1 of Matsuda / Quintarelli was blistering along in the lead and overwhelming its rivals. Unfortunately they experienced some technical trouble, which took them out of winning contention, but even with this misfortune they more than demonstrated the speed of the 2015 spec GT-R NISMO GT500.
Furthermore, at the manufacturers' tests held at Fuji Speedway in late march, the two days were blessed with dry conditions and allowed for more than adequate driving on the course. The races at Fuji Speedway, including round 4 in August, require exclusive aerodynamic specifications, and careful attention went into the assessment of these during the tests.
The fans take great pleasure in watching just what kind of race will unfold at these Fuji rounds. Of course, as with every round, we cannot take our eyes off our rivals. Not only the Lexus RC F, which makes Fuji its home course, but also Honda, who took victory at Fuji in the 5th round at Fuji last August, will definitely be sharpening their claws for this next race. In any case, it is highly likely that on both the weekend's qualifying and race days, some high-speed battles can be expected to unfold.
As for the GT300, a lot of attention will be focused on the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. In the fourth season since its debut, the competitiveness of this machine has been increased even further through improvements to its aerodynamics, strengthening of the brakes, and so on. Partnering up with NDDP RACING's Kazuki Hoshino this year is Mitsunori Takaboshi, who has been honing his driving skill in formula racing such as the F3.
In addition, last year's GT300 champions, GAINER, have partnered veteran Andre Couto with Katsumasa Chiyo and in the opening round the pair immediately secured pole position. There are high expectations that a vanguard battle will occur between these two high-caliber teams.