Nissan drivers convinced of Z’s potential at Okayama

Nissan SUPER GT drivers Ronnie Quintarelli and Bertrand Baguette believe the Z has the potential to fight at the head of the field at Okayama based on last weekend’s pre-season test at the track.

Nissan drivers convinced of Z’s potential at Okayama
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While Toyota topped both days of the two-day test, Nissan came close to taking the top spot on Sunday, with the #23 NISMO Z of Tsugio Matsuda setting the second-quickest time, just 0.130 seconds behind the leading TOM’S Toyota of Sho Tsuboi.

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That put the NISMO machine shared by Matsuda and Quintarelli, one of only a handful of GT500 cars to set its fastest time on the second day, fifth in the combined order for the test.

While Nissan has targeted a reduction in drag and increase in top speed with the new Z, four-time GT500 champion Quintarelli feels that even around a more technical layout like Okayama the car has the ability to fight against Toyota and Honda.

“Straight away the feeling was better than I expected,” Quintarelli told “I was expecting to struggle more going between high speed and low speed, to have a good compromise. The car was not bad.

“Usually in the middle of April we have this kind of weather. We expected five or 10 degrees less track temperature, so we’re not inside the range for the tyres [we brought here]. 

“The competition in GT500 is huge and the others are improving as well. If you miss one or two tenths [in qualifying] you are in the second half of the grid. All the details have to be working well, but I feel we have the potential to be there.”

Second-quickest of the Nissan contingent at Okayama was the #3 NDDP Racing car, which set its best time on Saturday with Mitsunori Takaboshi at the wheel to go eighth overall.

The Impul Z, which unlike the Michelin-shod #3 and #23 cars uses Bridgestone tyres, ended up 10th-fastest with Kazuki Hiramine at the wheel, 0.396s off the pace.


Hiramine's teammate Baguette noted that Nissan’s absence from a private test held at Okayama in February meant the marque could be satisfied to be so close to the performance of Toyota and Honda.

The Belgian told “It’s our first test here with the new car, we didn’t test with Honda and Toyota last month, so they have an advantage. The good news is that we are close even though the set-up is not yet matching the track.

“It was too much to expect to be P1 when the other guys already tested here and have data from their cars for the last two years. We have to start everything from scratch, we can’t use the set-up from the GT-R.

“But I think there is potential. I have the feeling Okayama can be a match for the Z, Fuji will probably be as well, we just need to work a bit more to understand the car.”

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