Quintarelli hopes new Z will end Nissan’s Fuji “nightmare”

Ronnie Quintarelli says he hopes Nissan’s all-new Z GT500 SUPER GT car will help end the marque’s competitive “nightmare” at Fuji Speedway in 2022.

Earlier this month, Nissan took the covers off the model that replaces the R35-generation GT-R that had been in service since the 2008 season.

The new machine, based upon the road-going Z that was unveiled by Nissan in the United States earlier this year, features a low, sleek design that is reminiscent of the GR Supra used in SUPER GT’s top class by marketplace rival Toyota.

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One of Nissan’s aims with the new car is to reduce the straight-line speed deficit that has plagued its high-downforce, high-drag GT-R in the last two seasons since the switch to full Class One regulations.

Since the start of last season, no Nissan crew has been able to finish higher than fifth in any race at Fuji, which held four races in 2020 and two this season.

That’s despite the strong prior Fuji record of factory NISMO pair Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda, who scored three victories at the track between 2015 and ’18.

 

Since the introduction of the 2020 version of the GT-R, Suzuka has been the only track at which the pair have been able to win, but Quintarelli is hoping that the Z will allow Nissan to rediscover its previous competitiveness at Fuji and fight for wins at every venue.

“We could see in the last two seasons with the new regulations, we were competitive in technical circuits like Suzuka,” Quintarelli told Motorsport.com.

“But going to Fuji was like a nightmare, you always had to watch the mirrors on the straight and try and block if someone came to overtake you.

“Next season we have two rounds at Fuji again, and I hope we can have a more ‘mild’ car that’s easier to set up, to have a wider working range – a car that’s quick both on the straights and in the corners, like we had in the past.

“I have good memories from Fuji, we had many good races and we used to win there a lot. I really want to be back competitive at Fuji, especially in Golden Week it’s not nice to go with so many fans and just fight in the middle of the grid.

“My hope is that we don’t go to any circuit already knowing we have no chance to win. I want to be like two or three years ago, going everywhere and to be convinced we can fight for the victory at any track.”

Nissan Z GT500

Nissan Z GT500

Photo by: Motorsport.com / Japan

Four-time champion Quintarelli, who shook down the new Z at Fuji on the day of the car’s launch, is expected to partner Matsuda aboard the #23 NISMO car for a ninth consecutive season next year. 

Nissan has yet to announce its 2022 driver line-up, but held a ‘shootout’ test last week that involved Honda refugee Bertrand Baguette and Japanese youngsters Kiyoto Fujinami and Atsushi Miyake.

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