Unusually, the first half of this one year’s championship has been remarkably equivalent to the outlet four races of 2020. Motivate then , the season started with Toyota dominating the opener but then struggling three straight defeats, two at the fingers of Honda (Fuji, Motegi) and one at the fingers of Nissan (Suzuka). And, with four races long past, it’s a Honda crew that leads the championship after a hit at Motegi. If all of that sounds acquainted, it’ll Yet – it’ll also actual as without fret portray this one year.
Pondering the step forward that Toyota had perceived to manufacture on ‘ cornering’ tracks, as evidenced by its 1-2-3-4 (practically mirroring the GR Supra 1-2-3-4-5 at the Fuji curtain-raiser final one year) at Okayama, this need to be thought to be a purchase for Honda, which is aiming for its first-ever a hit GT500 title defense.
Since Tadasuke Makino returned from illness in time for the 2nd speed of the season at Fuji, the #1 Kunimitsu squad that received final one year’s title has looked in as true a form as ever, with Naoki Yamamoto inserting in two unbelievable drives within the 2 most latest races at Motegi and Suzuka to give himself a five-point lead over Rookie Racing Toyota duo Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima. And despite aa puny disappointing speed at Suzuka, Real Racing duo Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi are also effectively within the hunt.
That said, Makino and Yamamoto will likely be lucky to rank even a few parts within the next two races at Sugo and Autopolis with the stage two gasoline gallop with the hurry restrictor, and so they without a doubt can’t financial institution on a final-nook-of-the-final-lap-model implosion from Toyota yet again to attain away with the silverware. A purchase for both the #1 or the #17 (or, if it’ll safe its act collectively beforehand, the #8 ARTA automobile) at the penultimate round at Motegi, where the success weights are halved, will practically without a doubt be necessary to give the entrance-engined NSX-GT its 2nd championship in two years.
In the occasion you ogle at the desire of GT500 wins for every tire maker so a ways in 2021, there need to not any surprises: Bridgestone 3, Michelin 1, Yokohama 0, Dunlop 0. But how many would occupy predicted Yokohama scoring two podiums within the outlet four races – the same number as Michelin and two higher than Dunlop – given how glum its vehicles’ performances had been final one year, and having misplaced one in all its three companions since?
One of many enormous reviews heading into the season became once Honda outfit Mugen ending its relationship with Yokohama in favor of changing into Dunlop’s 2nd team of workers, leaving Yokohama with actual the #19 Racing Challenge Bandoh Toyota GR Supra and the #24 Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R, the least fancied vehicles of their respective camps. But by some ability, every the #19 and the #24 vehicles occupy made it on the rostrum, the pale for the first time in two years, the latter for the first time in five.
The brand new prerequisites at Motegi, a note with mostly fast, appealing corners that don’t punish the tires too unheard of, played straight into the fingers of Bandoh drivers Ritomo Miyata and Yuji Kunimoto, who came inner aa puny tardy pitstop of what would occupy been an immensely neatly-liked purchase. The larger shock although became once seeing Daiki Sasaki and Mitsunori Takaboshi be a half of their Michelin-shod Nissan colleagues on the rostrum at Suzuka, where Takaboshi admitted that falling temperatures over the course of the speed helped him attend his rubber frosty and an all- Nissan podium intact.
Issues are also taking a look up for Yokohama in GT300, where the wins scorecard reads Yokohama 2, Bridgestone 1, Dunlop 1, and the pinnacle two vehicles within the parts (#244 Max Racing Toyota and #56 Kondo Racing Nissan) are every Yokohama users. Yang Kondo became once Yokohama’s perfect well-known contender in 2020, the firm’s probabilities of defending its GT300 title are taking a look somewhat true at this stage.
Final one year, you’ll also argue that every Nissan team of workers bar the #23 NISMO pairing of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda underperformed. But fast forward 12 months, and there’s one GT-R crew that’s no doubt surpassed pre-season expectations, and that’s NDDP/B-Max Racing’s Kohei Hirate and Katsumasa Chiyo. They had been Nissan’s perfect finishers in every of the first three races, and at Suzuka Hirate led for a tight chunk of the methodology and wasn’t a ways from the team of workers’s first purchase in two years.
It perceived to purchase the duo, who had been placed collectively within the #3 machine following Frederic Makowiecki’s resolution to forestall the sequence sooner than the 2020 campaign, longer than most driver pairings to gel amid a sequence of mediocre finishes for what effectively portions to NISMO’s 2nd manufacturing facility automobile amid the backdrop of the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. But things occupy long past unheard of extra without fret this one year, to the extent that Hirate and Chiyo had been inserting their extra eminent colleagues within the #23 automobile, Quintarelli and Matsuda, to disgrace up except Suzuka.
The Suzuka speed took on an additional dimension because the battle for the purchase boiled the whole manner down to a showdown between the eminent incumbent of Nissan’s flagship automobile and the person that can dearly like to change him. On that occasion, Matsuda reminded the field that even at 42 years pale he can Still be a power to be reckoned with, especially at his home note. But with half the season Still to gallop, Hirate will no question occupy extra probabilities to manufacture a case for himself as Nissan prepares to retire the contemporary technology of GT-R in favor of a probable switch to the new ‘Z’ unfriendly mannequin.
Chiyo likewise has looked love a unheard of extra convincing proposition in his fifth beefy season within the GT500 ranks, with an aggressive opening stint at Suzuka constructing the team of workers for its 2nd-utter enact. The 34-one year-pale’s utter within the Nissan camp, which has been no stranger to a driver shake-up or two within the last few seasons, is indubitably taking a look extra get than it did 12 months ago.
Supra users in GT300
Final one year, Saitama Toyopet Green Mettlesome changed the game within the GT300 class with the introduction of its self-constructed version of the new GR Supra that came inner 10 parts of a hit the title at the first time of asking, helped by a Fuji-centric calendar and the addition of Kohta Kawaai to the team of workers’s driving energy. At the open of this one year, two other groups – LM Corsa and Max Racing – took supply of the automobile, and at the halfway point of the season every of them occupy received races with it.
LM Corsa had a doubtfully unpleasant 2020 season with the rising older Lexus RC F GT3, which now appears uncover it irresistible’ll also fair not be a ways-off from extinction in Japan following the logo’s virtual disappearance from the European GT3 racing scenes. But armed with their new weapon, Hiroki Yoshimoto and Shunsuke Kohno had been on the tempo in frosty weather checking out, extra boosted by a switch from Michelin to Dunlop tires, a hit 2nd day out at Fuji (albeit perfect after Saitama Toyopet suffered a slack mechanical failure whereas main) and making it three Supra wins in five starts at the note.
Max Racing, which perfect entered SUPER GT for the first time final one year, likewise ditched its Lexus for a Supra, albeit missing the first pre-season take a look at owing to the slack supply of the automobile. Fifth at Okayama became once an auspicious open, but Atsushi Miyake and Yuui Tsutsumi, one in all the youngest line-united statesin the category, did a sensational job at Suzuka to purchase the team of workers’s first purchase and propel themselves to the pinnacle of the drivers’ standings by a not-inconsiderable margin of seven parts within the project.
Two non-rankings within the final two races occupy left Yoshimoto and Kohno an additional 11 parts abet, one sooner than Saitama Toyopet duo Hiroki Yoshida and Kawaii. But on contemporary keep we are in a position to request all three Supra groups to be very unheard of within the combine for the title as they look to end a speed of four GT300 titles for FIA GT3-the utilization of groups.
For the 2nd one year working, ARTA finds itself on this list on the inferior facet of the ledger. The statistics somewhat unheard of talk for themselves: whereas the #1 Kunimitsu and the #17 Real Racing Hondas occupy received a speed apiece, sitting first and fourth within the standings, the #8 machine shared by Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi languishes in 10th, on less than a third of the parts of the #1 automobile, with an ideal enact of fifth at Motegi. And that’s despite Nojiri and Fukuzumi every having fun with one of the best respective seasons of their careers in Super Formula.
Now, it’ll Still be identified that ARTA’s keep within the outlet four races of 2020 became once even worse, as Nojiri and Fukuzumi managed a miserable three parts. But it is most sensible to be conscious that they had been perfect paired up at the open of final one year, whereas chief engineer Ryan Dingle became once also new to the ARTA fold. With a one year of expertise of working collectively, there are fewer excuses. The fitting speed in which the #8 crew occupy been competitive so a ways is the Fuji 500km, where Fukuzumi arguably bought unlucky with a yellow flag, main to a penalty that potentially designate he and Nojiri the purchase. Someplace else, they’ve without a doubt not doubt looked anyplace cease to unheard of for a podium.
At Okayama and Motegi, the team of workers simply couldn’t safe higher from underneath-par showings in qualifying, although at Motegi in bid the #8 automobile’s speed tempo became once true and a podium might occupy been on the cards with a higher grid slots. Then final day out at Suzuka, the hotter temperatures on speed day ended in a balance swap that meant the team of workers’s true grid slot of P5 went wasted – whereas Kunimitsu conversely went from a lowly 11th on the grid to fourth at the enact, despite carrying extra success ballast.
Subsequent up are Sugo and Autopolis, two tracks where the team of workers has no recordsdata. As by a ways the lightest of the three Bridgestone-shod Hondas, and one of the best one with no gasoline restrictor, the replace is there to mount a comeback, as is repeatedly the case in SUPER GT except the final two races. Nojiri and Fukuzumi will no question purchase comfort from their speed of three podiums at this same stage of the season final one year. But the easy truth is that they shouldn’t occupy this unheard of catching-as much as enact within the first utter.
If ARTA has been the enormous underperformer within the Honda camp so a ways this one year, the equivalent team of workers within the Toyota true need to be Cerumo, which with a meagre tally of 11 parts within the first four races has continued its worst open to a season since 1998, the one year sooner than Tachikawa joined the team of workers. It’s also the first time in 10 years the team of workers hasn’t managed not less than one podium in that time, a dire field for one in all the most embellished groups on the grid, 2nd perfect to TOM’S within the Toyota camp.
It’s been a turbulent one year-and-a-half for Cerumo, which expanded to a 2nd automobile final one year to occupy the void left by the Toyota/Team LeMans damage up. Nonetheless, with the 2 vehicles most often going diversified solutions on put-up, Tachikawa and Ishiura had been largely overshadowed by the Rookie Racing-branded machine of Kazuya Oshima and Sho Tsuboi. This one year, with Rookie Racing constructing by itself, Cerumo is abet to working actual the #38 automobile, but over the frosty weather the team of workers misplaced one in all the pillars of its latest success es as chief engineer Takuji Murata defected to Kondo Racing.
In Murata’s utter has attained Kotaro Tanaka, who masterminded fellow Toyota team of workers SARD’s 2016 title success, but so a ways it’s been something but monstrous crusing. In point of fact, sooner than the third round of the season at Motegi, Tachikawa stepped down from his team of workers director role in favor of Tanaka, who’s one of the best chief engineer within the GT500 class who’s also having to gallop up your whole operations. So a ways, the swap hasn’t, in an upturn in keep despite the #38 having a if truth be told handy success handicap, and if things don’t enhance swiftly, the question whether or not it might possibly be time to disband the oldest driver line-up within the GT500 field need to be raised.
Now 46, Tachikawa is reaching the age where even the most a hit drivers are nudged in direction of retirement , but primarily based mostly on this season alone you’d occupy to enlighten that Ishiura – who has already hung up his helmet in Super Formula – is the one who you’ll keep away with. Whereas Tachikawa surged forward five locations in his stint at Suzuka, Ishiura became once unimpressive, losing positions sometime of his time at the wheel for the third time in four races. There occupy been paddock whispers this time final one year that sponsor ZENT became once angling for a refresh of the Cerumo line-up, and suffice it to enlighten those rumors have a tendency to resurface within the arriving months because the silly season hots up.
After its perfect season in years became once rewarded with a 2nd GT500 entry, Dunlop has so a ways did not inform on the promise it confirmed in pre-season checking out, with neither the #64 Nakajima Racing Honda nor the logo’s new entry, the #16 Mugen Honda, having accomplished on the rostrum so a ways. That’s despite the #64 and the #16 having with ease one of the best qualifying averages of the Honda camp, which neatly encapsulates the difficulty: speed tempo Still Lags at the abet of the tire’s one-lap tempo.
Dunlop said at the Okayama season opener that it’ll even occupy without fret taken pole had it elected to inform its softest tire compound, something that perceived to indicate a swap of methodology in direction of bettering consistency over a stint. But whereas the 2 Dunlop-equipped Hondas occupy been reliably fast in qualifying, critically locking out the entrance row at Suzuka, whose fast and flowing structure has repeatedly been a exact fit for the tire, replicating that tempo within the speed has proven a unheard of sterner take a look at.
Motegi perceived to be a step forward , as despite the blistering warmth the #16 confirmed fixed, if not staggering, speed tempo en route to fourth, whereas the #64 machine would occupy potentially followed it home in fifth utter if it hadn’t been for Hiroki Otsu clobbering a GT300 class Toyota Prius at the closing chicane. But, attain Suzuka, the #16 suffered a fully diabolical speed, shedding from the consequence in ninth at the enact. We are in a position to’t know how the #64 would occupy fared as it crashed out early on with a brake failure, but Takuya Izawa’s put up-speed feedback made it sound as if he expected a similarly sophisticated time within the 2nd stint had the automobile survived.
The silver lining for Dunlop is that every of its vehicles live very gentle, and it has been ready to habits checking out at Sugo, whereas most of its competitors occupy not, which must supply an attend. But there is clearly a mountain to climb to kind a tire that goes to place aside both of its two vehicles in a jam to mount to any extent extra or less season-long notify the might of Bridgestone and Michelin in future.
Honda’s GT300 groups
Since ARTA switched from BMW to Honda equipment for its GT300 notify sooner than the 2019 season, the team of workers’s #55 NSX GT3 has repeatedly been there or thereabouts, with passe Shinichi Takagi accompanied by a revolving door of fast Honda prodigies. He and Fukuzumi received the 2019 title, and whereas Takagi couldn’t defend his title paired with Toshiki Oyu, the team of workers became once one in all the most fixed accessible, perfect failing to rank parts once all one year. With Oyu being promoted to the Honda true for 2021, Ren Sato became once brought in to accompany Takagi for this one year.
So a ways then yet again, the season has been turbulent to enlighten the least. Factual parts at Okayama went begging attributable to a penalty for contact, and whereas Takagi and Sato enjoyed a tender speed to third at Fuji, at Motegi a ‘frosty suit’ failure within the blazing warmth left Sato was unable to enact the speed, and at Suzuka Sato inexplicably did not fabricate it out of Q1. The upshot is the pair take a seat aa ways-off 11th within the standings on less than half of the parts scored by the championship-main Max Racing Toyota.
It’s been even worse for the 2 other groups working the Honda NSX GT3. UpGarage, which is operated by the same Servus Japan organization because the ARTA automobile, has scored a miserable three parts so a ways despite boasting ex-ARTA GT500 man Takashi Kobayashi and rising star Teppei Natori, not even taking the open at Suzuka after a free wheel ended in Natori to rupture heavily at 130R in warmth-up. And the less said about Drago Corse’s season so a ways the higher: the new-ogle operation helmed by ex-Direxiv boss Misato Haga has yet to safe on the scoreboard at all.
Suzuka in bid felt love a huge omitted probability for all three Honda GT300 crews, because the note tends to suit the mid-engined automobile. At the least Takagi and ARTA will likely be impressed by their purchase on SUPER GT’s final talk over with to Sugo two years ago, but they entirely need a true showing there subsequent weekend to defend within the hunt in this form of competitive field that aspects not less than a dozen vehicles in a position to a hit races.