The final round of the SUPER GT began under clear, crisp autumn skies today at Mobility Resort Motegi, a perfect setting for closing out the season. However, early on in the race, the Nissan cars got off to a rough start.
Katsumasa Chiyo, in the #3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z started the race from 4th position and managed to maintain this position despite contact with another car at the 5th corner on the first lap. On lap 9, between turns 3 and 4, a several-car incident caused severe damage to the rear of the #24 Z, forcing it into retirement.
The #23 Z brushed another car that swerved to avoid the accident and had to pit to repair the damage. Immediately after this, the #3 Z was handed a drive-through penalty due to contact made on the first lap, which resulted in a significant loss of position.
On lap 15 during the dispatch of the safety car (SC), two GT300 class cars collided, resulting in an extended period under caution. One lap after the race finally resumed on lap 21, the #3 Z came in for a pit stop to refuel, change tires and change drivers to Mitsunori Takaboshi. The quickness and timing of the pit stop saw the #3 Z make up a great number of positions. The #12 Z pitted after 23 laps and maintained its position after handing the wheel to Kazuki Hiramine. The #23 Z, which had finished repairs, returned three laps down in 13th place.
As the race entered the second half and all of the top cars had pitted after 37 laps, the #12 Z was in 2nd position, 1 second behind the leader, while the #3 Z was in 5th position, both cars taking advantage of strong pace to close in on their rivals. On lap 51, the #3 Z passed one car at the first corner and moved up to 4th position. He further increased his pace and closed the gap to the car in front. The gaps between the race leader down to 4th position were around 1 second respectively as the race entered the final stages. Ultimately, the #12 Z, which finished on the podium in 2nd place, overtook the #3 Z in the series ranking to become the season champion. The #3 Z, which had to catch up from behind due to a penalty, recovered its position to 4th place and finished at 2nd place in the series rankings.
After 8 rounds of the 2022 season, the new Nissan Z GT500 took three race victories and grabbed the first series championship for the Nissan/NISMO teams in 7 years.
Following the race Kazuki Hiramine commented, “I really want to thank the fans. I’ve finally been able to grab the championship. I would also like to thank everyone on the team, everyone at NISMO, Bridgestone, and all of our sponsors. There were times when it was really tough, but the fans’ support gave me strength and I was able to come this far.”
Bertrand Baguette added, “Thank you all so much. I am really ecstatic to be the champion. Hiramine drove a great race and led us to victory. I am really happy and still can’t believe it. It is thanks to all the fans, Nissan/NISMO, Director Kazuyoshi Hoshino, the team and my teammate. Thank you all very much.”
TEAM IMPUL Team Principal, Kazuyoshi Hoshino followed, “Thanks to Calsonic/Marelli, Nissan, Bridgestone, I really appreciate the support of all the people involved. After joining us this year Baguette has driven really well alongside Hiramine. The more we used him, the more we realized that he is a very good driver. I would like to thank all of our sponsors and fans for their support.”
Nissan SUPER GT teams executive director, Motohiro Matsumura followed, “After a season of racing with the new Z, Nissan/NISMO are very happy to have won the series championship for the first time in seven years. In developing the new car, our goal was to create a car that could demonstrate its speed on any track while improving its overall competitiveness, and we were able to achieve these goals. We are very proud of TEAM IMPUL for achieving a great result to win the championship. I am also very happy to be able to show this achievement to our fans and would like to thank all of them again for their support.”
Five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed in the GT300 class, and the #56 REALIZE NISSAN MECHANIC CHALLENGE GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami / Joao Paulo de Oliveira), which started 6th on the grid, overcame an accident to finish 19th and win its second GT300 class championship since 2020. The #10 TANAX GAINER GT-R (Ryuichiro Tomita / Riki Okusa) and #360 RUNUP RIVAUX GT-R (Takayuki Aoki / Teppei Natori) finished in 8th and 10th place, respectively. The #10 GT-R’s Okusa, who competed in all rounds of the series, finished 3rd in the series.