NISSAN BACK IN SUPER GT GLORY AS THEY’VE CLINCHED BOTH THE 2022 GT500 AND GT300 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLES!
Written by Gen Flauta, Edited by Simran Kanthi
Photo Credit: Shigeno Yoshida via Auto Sport Web
The eighth and final round of the Super GT 2022 Championship at the Mobility Resort Motegi (formerly Twin Ring Motegi) has come to a close, as the Team Impul duo of Kazuki Hiramine and Bertrand Baguette have ended Nissan's Super GT title drought by cruising their #12 CALSONIC Z to second in the race. That allowed Team Impul to outscore Nissan Development Driver Program (NDDP) Racing, which runs the #3 CRAFTSPORTS Z, by 4.5 points. This is the first GT500 title for the legendary Calsonic Blue team since its back-to-back championship titles in 1994 and 1995 with the Skyline GT-R R32 race cars.
It is also the first for Nissan since its last title with its own NISMO team, which also clinched back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 by the iconic duo of Tsugio Masuda and Ronnie Quintarelli. And last, but not least, it is the first title of the new Z since its debut this season, which also continued the trend for Nissan for winning a title every time a new car was launched for the past two decades, such as the then-new R35 GT-R in 2008 and 2014, with the latter having a major regulation change by a switch to turbocharged four-cylinder engines which still carries to the current cars.
Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi of NDDP Racing, Team Impul's title rival, went off to a tough start in the race with a drive-through penalty after Chiyo caused a collision with the ARTA NSX piloted by Tomoki Nojiri onto Turn 5. That cost the team a crucial points finish to clinch what would have been its first title as NDDP, while also NISMO's first since 2015 as a whole team. It managed to recover to fourth, the best finish they could achieve during the race.
The winning car in the GT500 class was Team Kunimitsu (#100 STANLEY NSX) of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino, who managed to have the perfect race after clinching pole position during qualifying, as well as nearly losing the lead to Team Impul twice throughout the race. The Motegi win is the team's first and only win of the season, as well as a fitting tribute to Takahashi Kunimitsu, the legendary racing driver and the team's founder, who passed away in early March.
As for GT300, the #56 Kondo GT-R piloted by João Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami has managed to bounce and clinch the GT300 title against #10 Gainer GT-R after nearly killing its title chances by losing a front right tyre with 20 laps to go. It was until a late final-lap move by the #88 Weibo Lamborghini Huracan to overtake the #10 Gainer GT-R that revived Kondo's title hopes while finishing in nineteenth place. But as they lead the championship with 52 points, Gainer has only managed to finish eighth, which is just three points behind the title leader.
The victory for the GT300 class belongs to the #55 ARTA NSX of Hideki Mutoh and Iori Kimura, which also won the race from pole position like its GT500 sibling. This victory could be a great way to celebrate what would be the final race for ARTA in the GT300 class, as the team looks to partner with Team Mugen to field two GT500 cars for the 2023 season.
Throughout the race, there was a multi-car collision on lap 11 between the #39 Denso GR Supra and #24 Realize Kondo GT-R GT500 cars, and the GT300 cars #25 Hoppy GR Supra and #30 apr GR86, triggering the first safety car under Full Course Yellow (FCY). Another FCY happened again a few laps later to lap 15 when the #5 Mach MC86 and the #31 apr Prius came together at the start/finish straight.