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Super GT Fuji II

How mid-race recce allowed NDDP Nissan to dominate at Fuji

A mid-race reconnaissance mission by Nissan SUPER GT driver Katsumasa Chiyo proved key to the NDDP Racing squad's dominant victory in changeable conditions at Fuji.

The #3 Nissan Z shared by Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi was the class of the field in a wet-dry race on Sunday that was interrupted by a red flag, taking the chequered flag some 44 seconds clear of the field.

Once again, the superiority of the Michelin tyres in the wet was clear, and when the track was soaked by a sudden downpour during the stoppage caused by the Tsuchiya Engineering GT300 car's dramatic fire, Takaboshi quickly scythed his way from fourth to first before pulling clear of the field.

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But in the post-race press conference, Takaboshi revealed that advice from Chiyo, who drove the first 56 laps of the race before handing off to his team-mate, regarding tyre choice was vital to his speed.

"During the red flag, we were able to change to wet tyres [from slicks]," explained Takaboshi. "Just before the race resumed, we took off the tyres we had originally fitted and used different ones.

"We made that decision because Chiyo had taken my car, drove all the way down to 'B corner' [Turn 10, at the far side of the track] and checked out the situation for us. He said, 'it's already drying out quite a bit, so maybe this tyre is better'."

Chiyo himself added: "Until two minutes before it was no longer allowed to work on the car, we had a different tyre fitted, one suited to more heavy wet conditions. If we had kept using that, I don't know if we could have gone to the end of the race at that pace.

"At that time, the wind was blowing from 'B corner', and it was hard to see the sky properly from the pits because there are buildings and things in the way. There was nobody else who could go down there, so I went. I could see the sky was brightening up, so I said, 'let's change tyres'.

"Because I'm also a driver, I know what kind of information [Takaboshi] would want. So I am glad I went down there."

 

For Chiyo and Takaboshi, victory at Fuji made up for the frustration of the previous round at Suzuka, where they finished the shortened race first on the road only to be hit with a penalty for not completing their second mandatory pitstop and drop to fourth.

"I have many thoughts about what happened last time, but we swallowed everything, gritted our teeth and persevered for the last two months," said Takaboshi. "In that sense, I'm happy with this result and I think the team is too."

The NDDP Nissan drivers now lead the championship by five points from TOM'S Toyota pair Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata, who recovered from the back of the grid to finish fourth.

"Now we will have a very heavy success handicap and fuel flow restrictor, so we'll be praying for more rain from now on!" said Chiyo. "Michelin tyres are so dependable in the rain. I have high hopes for that, and the atmosphere in the team is really good, so I'll do my best so we can end the season smiling."

Additional reporting by Ken Tanaka

Motorsport.tv is showing all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

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