YOKOHAMA, Japan – The #3 Niterra MOTUL Z secured its first win of the season in a thrilling race on August 6 at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture and is now ranked No. 1 in the series.
The race started at 1:45 p.m. under light rain and full-wet conditions, with the safety car (SC) leading the way. The green signal was lit after two laps behind the SC and the #3 Z showcased exceptional pace in the wet, quickly overtaking the top two cars on the 3rd lap, propelling itself to 2nd position. On the 4th lap, it successfully passed the #24 REALIZE CORPORATION ADVAN Z, which had started in pole position, to claim the lead.
Meanwhile, the #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z, starting from 13th position, faced a setback, having to make a penalty pit stop after five laps due to replacing the monocoque following its accident in the previous race, and this dropped it back to the tail end. Conversely, the #1 MARELLI IMPUL Z, starting from 14th position, made significant progress by passing four cars to reach 10th.
As the race progressed, the rain ceased, and the track conditions improved rapidly. This prompted most cars to pit and switch to slick tires after 10 laps. By the end of lap 17, the #3 Z was in 4th, the #1 Z in 5th, the #24 Z in 12th, and the #23 Z in 15th.
On lap 35, a GT300 car caught fire, leading to the deployment of the safety car (SC). This closed the gap between the cars, setting the stage for an intense battle for positions on the restart from lap 41. Right after the restart, the #3 Z advanced to 2nd, the #1 Z to 3rd, and the #24 Z to 8th.
As the race reached its midpoint, the #1 Z lost pace and dropped to 5th position. Consequently, it opted for a pit stop on lap 54. After 56 laps, the #3 Z and #24 Z also pitted, and both teams made driver changes. The #3 Z re-entered the race in 8th position, but after all GT500 class cars had pitted, it had moved up to 4th position.
The race was disrupted again in lap 65 due to a fire in a GT300 class car, causing the race to be red flagged at the end of lap 67. At this point, the #3 Z held 4th place, followed by the #24 Z in 9th, the #1 Z in 11th, and the #23 Z in 15th.
The race remained suspended for over 40 minutes to remove the damaged car and repair the barrier. The weather worsened during this time, with heavy rain falling in some area. All cars switched to rain tires and after 4 laps behind the SC, the race resumed.
In the challenging final stages of the race, Mitsunori Takaboshi in the #3 Z exhibited outstanding speed in the wet. He made impressive overtakes and secured the lead on lap 75. With each lap, Takaboshi extended his lead, eventually crossing the finish line with a significant lead over the rest of the field. After 100 laps, Takaboshi had secured the team’s first win of the season and put the #3 Z in the No. 1 spot for the series.
The #24 Z struggled with tire wear and matching in the wet, finishing in 10th place. The #23 Z finished 13th, and the #1 Z in 15th.
#3 driver Katsumasa Chiyo, reflecting on the team’s performance, praised the preparation leading up to the race and highlighted Takaboshi’s excellent driving in the second half. Takaboshi was overjoyed by the victory and credited Chiyo’s initial performance and tire advice during the red flag period for their success.
In the GT300 class, five NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3 cars competed. The #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R, which qualified 3rd, showed excellent adaptability in a rough race and achieved its first win of the season. The #56 Realize Nissan Mechanic Challenge GT-R and the #10 PONOS GAINER GT-R finished in 4th and 7th place respectively, with the remaining two GT-Rs also completing the race.
The next round of the SUPER GT will be held at Suzuka Circuit on August 27th.