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Super GT Suzuka

SUPER GT promises pitstop rule changes in time for next race

SUPER GT boss Masaaki Bandoh says that the series’ pitstop rules will be changed in time for the next race following the controversy in last month’s Suzuka round.

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The saga surrounding which team won the red-flagged race, curtailed by a huge crash involving NISMO Nissan driver Tsugio Matsuda on lap 59 of 77, rumbled on for a week until the release of the official results last Monday.

Toyota squad Racing Project Bandoh and drivers Yuji Kunimoto and Sena Sakaguchi were finally confirmed as the winners as a 60-second penalty for the NDDP Nissan crew of Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi, who led the race at the time of the stoppage, was upheld.

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Chiyo and Takaboshi were given the penalty for not having completed their second of two mandatory refuelling stops before the red flag, dropping to fourth in the final results.

The confusion prompted calls to tighten the rules to prevent further controversy in cases where 450km races are stopped and cannot be resumed

GTA chairman Bandoh has promised that revisions to the regulations will be made before the next round of the season at Fuji Speedway in early August.

“Because there is the obligation to refuel twice before the finish, there are a wide range of strategic options, including pitting in the latter stages of the race,” Bandoh told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.

“However, for the future, regarding whether this becomes a ‘risky’ strategy in terms of the regulations, we will have to discuss things and come up with new regulations in time for the next race.

“It’s not like the #3 car did anything wrong. Pitting in late was part of their strategy, and I’m sure they would have come in a few laps after the lap the crash happened. 

"But this is why we need to discuss creating regulations that avoid the risk of penalties being given.”

 

Bandoh’s comments align with a statement made by NDDP team director Jiro Shimada in a NISMO press release that coincided with the release of the official results.

Shimada said the team chose not to pursue the matter any further “because the rulemakers had promised to clarify the rules in the future”.

One precedent Nissan is likely to have used in its argument to have the #3 car’s penalty overturned is the fact that the requirement to pit twice was abolished when last year’s Fuji 450km was red-flagged after a huge crash for Takaboshi.

But Bandoh says the fact that the Suzuka race had already reached 75 percent distance, meaning it did not need to be restarted for full points to be awarded, means the precedent set at Fuji was not applicable this time.

“Last year at Fuji, the completed race distance was only a little over 50 percent, so the requirement to pit twice was waived, but this time is different,” said Bandoh.

“It’s true that each team had various different things to tell the judging committee, so I think we have to clarify the regulations before the next race.”

Read Also:

Why two GT500 teams didn't protest

The penalty for the #3 NDDP Nissan followed a mass protest by nine GT500 teams - essentially the entire field excluding NISMO, fellow Nissan outfit Kondo Racing and Honda squad ARTA.

Among the majority of teams that did file a protest, the unifying theme among them was a desire for the rules to be clarified in such situations, including the teams that didn't stand to benefit results-wise.

Kondo is understood not to have protested simply for administrative reasons - team principal Masahiko Kondo had already left the circuit and was thus unable to physically sign the documentation required to submit a protest.

Meanwhile, ARTA didn't file a protest because the team perceived that the #3 Nissan had not broken any rules as written in the regulations, despite its clear dissatisfaction with the provisional result.

Additional reporting by Kenichiro Ebii

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