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The answers that SUPER GT’s Fuji return promises to supply

Not just that, but it addittionally promises to supply some essential hints about how exactly all of those other 2022 campaign will probably unfold.

Actually, considering that weve basically only had two-and-a-half races up to now, with little in the form of consistent performers across them, its been hard to be overly certain about which teams will tend to be in the hunt once the title finally gets decided at Motegi in November.

For what its worth, an instant recap: the initial three races of the growing season so far have already been won by three different manufacturers, with Toyota (Okayama), Honda (Fuji) and Nissan (Suzuka) all having an individual victory apiece under their belts. To create things a lot more egalitarian, all three races up to now have featured a high three comprising an individual car from each brand.

In the event that you were to tot up a notional manufacturers standings in line with the top two outcomes of each manufacturer per race, Toyota leads on 57 points, with Nissan on 51.5 and Honda on 49. But if pushed to choose which car looks with an edge on the competition, the first evidence could cause you to place your cash on Nissan and its own all-new Z.

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Needless to say, we cant say with certainty what could have happened had the Fuji 450km Golden Week race in-may gone the entire distance rather than being cut short by Mitsunori Takaboshis terrifying crash at the wheel of the #3 NDDP Racing Z.

But, considering that Takaboshi was pressuring Yuhi Sekiguchis SARD Toyota during the incident, theres a good chance he and Katsumasa Chiyo could have finished up celebrating their first victory in GT500 at that track, rather than just a month or more later at Suzuka.

Admittedly, NDDP’s Suzuka win was doable by way of a) other cars having more (however, not much more, due to half-points) success ballast, and b) going for a fresh engine penalty-free. But such was the #3 cars dominance that even though they had attained Suzuka with a stage one fuel restrictor and older engine, you need to think they might have still scored solid points.

Takaboshi and Chiyos victory has put them to the very best of the standings, just above the points threshold for a power-sapping stage one fuel flow restrictor this weekend at Fuji. They’re equal with Rookie Racing Toyota pair Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima, who won the opener at Okayama and also have bagged some additional minor points in both races since.

Logic would dictate these two cars will have a problem with their fuel restrictors. But over a 450km race where two stops are mandatory, tyre strategy and longevity will undoubtedly be key, especially with temperatures apt to be around 30 degrees Celsius. The strong top speed of the Z and GR Supra means passing on Fujis long main straight usually isnt too much.

If Takaboshi and Chiyo find their Michelins working well in heat, another top-five finish or simply a good sniff of the podium cant be eliminated. If they can perform something similar three weeks later at Suzuka – also a 450km event thats apt to be run in scorching conditions, and at the track where in fact the Z may perform – it could put the #3 pair in good stead indeed.

With only more race (Sugo) to survive from then on prior to the success weight starts coming faraway from the penultimate round at Autopolis, theres no obviously better contender for the title favourite label at this time.

Having said that, Yamashita and Oshima have previous form with regards to defying the success ballast odds at Fuji, so when SARD showed in-may, a well-timed full-course yellow or safety car can always transform the fortunes of an automobile that doesnt may actually have the raw speed.

Next in the standings are Hondas three Bridgestone-shod NSX-GTs, with Team Kunimitsu (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino), Real Racing (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Nobuharu Matsushita) and ARTA (Tomoki Nojiri/Nirei Fukuzumi) set to transport 40kg, 36kg and 30kg respectively. Hardly a help, granted, however, not a dealbreaker in an extended, hot race, either.

It had been the ARTA car that won the final Fuji race in so what can only be called bizarre circumstances. Nojiri and Fukuzumi were promoted to third on the highway following Takaboshis race-ending crash to the very best step of the podium, as both SARD and TOMS Toyota GR Supras which were running ahead during the red flag took penalties.

ARTA chief engineer Ryan Dingle felt a relatively late, and long first pitstop had put the #8 Honda in a solid position to leap before its rivals at the next round of stops. But he also made the admission that the NSX-GTs extra drag meant that passing a wholesome Toyota or Nissan across the straight was equally not just a terribly likely proposition.

Things might be a little different these times given the excess heat means less dense air, and for that reason less of a straight line speed dividend for low-drag cars. But all the things being even, a Honda will probably have a harder time dealing with a negative grid position.

One more thing that the high temperatures could impact is strategy, particularly if it involves double-stint the tyres, that was made a chance for the very first time in the Golden Week Fuji race because of SUPER GTs decision to no more mandate driver changes at every pitstop. Higher temperatures (and heavier cars) not merely makes managing tyres that a lot more of challenging, in addition, it makes tyre warm-up easier, removing among the key benefits of double-stinting strategy: eliminating a slow out lap on cold tyres.

In the May race, several teams, including ARTA, SARD and Racing Project Bandoh, were likely to forego tyre changes at the next round of stops, but due to the red flag we never surely got to see how everything could have played out. But with two 450km races approaching where strategy will undoubtedly be at the very least as important as speed, getting these kinds of call right could become the difference between being able to fight for the title rather than.

There are many GT500 teams who might use a large result at Fuji. TOMS and SARD know that is their last possiblity to bank big points at what remains among the best tracks for the Toyota GR Supra, while NISMO pair Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda will undoubtedly be feeling pressure to close the gap in the standings with their Nissan colleagues Takaboshi and Chiyo and prove they arent past it.

Racing Project Bandoh, the pole-winning team in-may, too will undoubtedly be hoping to benefit from hot temperatures at a track where its Yokohama tyre is which can work well since it seeks to place a finish to an agonizing losing streak dating back to to the 2016 season.

In the event that you consider things from the race distance perspective, up to now weve not had a third of the growing season. The truncated Fuji race has restricted us to significantly less than 900km of running up to now, but on the remaining five rounds, we’ve a bumper 1800km of racing to check forward to.

By Sunday evening, we ought to have a clearer picture which manufacturer really gets the edge in this most unusually tightly-contested of seasons.

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