-- SUPER GT 2012 Round 1 Race Report --
Okayama International Circuit (OkayamaTochigi prefecture) Okayama International Circuit played host to the "OKAYAMA GT 300km RACE", the opening round of the 2012 SUPER GT season. Qualifying 4th, the #23 AUTECH MOTUL GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Michael Krumm) finished the race in the same position. Meanwhile, the #1 S Road REITO MOLA GT-R (Masataka Yanagida/Ronnie Quintarelli) ended up eighth. Creating a stir on its debut in the GT300 class, the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R got through qualifying in 9thposition and ran as high as fourth early on in the race, until an accident in the latter half pushed the car back, the machine eventually reaching the flag in 19th position.
For the 2012 SUPER GT season-opener, the GT500 class featured 15 cars, with the GT300 class fielding 25 – for a total of 40 cars on track. With an ambient temperature of a slightly chilly 10 degrees Celsius, the 300km event got underway in earnest. On the opening lap, the #23 GT-R of Satoshi Motoyama passed the #100 HSV for third place, before snatching 2nd from the #36 SC430 on lap 7. In addition, the car got past the #38 SC430 on lap 38 to take over the lead of the race, sending the Nissan fans in the main grandstand into a rapturous roar. Shortly thereafter, on lap 37, Motoyama brought the car in, handing the wheel over to teammate Michael Krumm. For the returnee, it took longer than expected to get heat into the tyres, and once the cars around him had also made their stops, he had lost two places and was running third. The German driver ran a long stint in the car, setting consistent lap times and minding the tyres while he waited for a chance to catch the cars ahead. That opportunity never came, and on lap 69 he was passed by the #38 SC430 and #17 HSV. From there until the final lap, Krumm protected his position, finishing the race in 4th place after making up one more position.
Qualifying one position behind the #23 GT-R, the #1 GT-R started the race in fifth place with Ronnie Quintarelli at the controls for the first half. After passing the #100 HSV, he was fourth at the end of the opening lap, though this position was reversed on lap 23 and he was back to his starting position. After completing the pit stop and driver switch to Yanagida, the car ran in fifth place, but a vibration developed after contact with the #3 GT-R on lap 51. As a result, the car dropped one position on lap 56, and then lost another two just before the end of the race, ending the day in eighth place.
Having shown great pace in the morning's warm-up session, the #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Joao Paolo di Oliveira) started the race in 11th place, quickly making up two positions on the opening lap. The car then aimed at furthering its position in the early part of the race. However, contact with another car caused damage to the undertray, and it was officially ordered to return to its pit for repairs. As a result, the car fell well down the order, to the point that it had to fight from the back of the pack in its recovery drive. Matsuda took the over reins from Oliveira for the latter half of the race, repeatedly setting quick lap times on his way to an eventual 10th-place finish, and a points-scoring result. Qualifying 14th, the D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Bjorn Wirdheim) had a lackluster race. The team saved some time when they opted not to change tyres during the driver switch, moving up to eleventh position – the spot in which they completed the event.
Entered in the GT300 class, the #3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Katsumasa Chiyo) qualified ninth and had Sekiguchi at the wheel for the start. In the first half of the race, the debuting machine ran as high as third. After carrying out the driver switch to Chiyo, the car returned to the race in 4th place. However, contact with the #1 GT-R on lap 47 sent the car spinning off track and a lengthy period in the gravel trap, losing a considerable amount of time. In addition, after getting back on the tarmac, the car returned to the pit for a thorough check of its components. This brought about a drive-through penalty after it was deemed that there had been a violation of the rules during the stop. Despite these unexpected delays and a sharp drop in the car's ranking, Chiyo took the chequered flag on the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT3's debut after completing the race distance in 19th place.
On the #23 GT-R scoring a 4th-place finish in the opening round, NISMO Director Yutaka Suzuki commented: "We had a little trouble due to the temperature, which was too low on this occasion. Despite this, I think both our drivers did an outstanding job. They each had considerable difficulty getting any heat into the hard compound tyres, so to see them temporarily challenge for the top position amply demonstrates the competitive power of this year's GT-R. It was a sufficient response to the situation we faced today. We're looking forward to the next round at Fuji."