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Featured NISMO retains Super GT Championship in Motegi

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by R.J. O'Connell, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell
    Commentator/Contributor Premium Member

    nismo win 2015 gt500 championship.jpg
    At the end of the 2015 Autobacs Super GT Series, it was the reigning GT500 champions at NISMO who successfully defended their title following a thrilling season finale at Twin Ring Motegi.

    Drivers Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli fought back from twelfth on the grid to finish second in the 250km final race at Motegi, good enough to overhaul their championship rivals, Calsonic Team Impul, and their drivers Hironobu Yasuda and J.P. Oliveira, by five points - as the Calsonic GT-R fell just short of the title with a fourth-place finish. The race win went to the KeePer TOM's Lexus RC-F of Andrea Caldarelli and Ryo Hirakawa, who took their second win of the year thanks in large part to some incredible daredevil maneuvers in traffic by the 21-year-old Hirakawa in his closing stint of the race. Third place in the race, and the championship as well, was the Raybrig Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX of Naoki Yamamoto and Takuya Izawa, who picked up a popular result at one of Honda's two "home circuits."

    It was a landmark moment for Italian driver Ronnie Quintarelli, who became the first four-time GT500 champion in history with his successful defense of the title. The 36-year-old from fair Verona surpassed three-time champions Masahiko Kageyama, Satoshi Motoyama, Juichi Wakisaka, and Yuji Tachikawa as the most successful driver in Super GT history. For Tsugio Matsuda, who represented Nissan at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, it is his second GT500 championship in as many years. Matsuda will enter 2016 in a three-way tie with Motoyama and Tachikawa for the lead in career victories - they have sixteen wins each.

    nismo super gt champions.jpg

    NISMO, the most successful team in Super GT, have now won their eighth championship, and become the first team to successfully defend the GT500 championship since they themselves did it in 2003-04. The Nissan GT-R enjoyed a successful 2015 season on the whole, with GT-Rs winning four out of eight races in both the GT500 and GT300 categories, including two dual 1-2 finishes at Fuji Speedway and Autopolis.

    The championship in the second-tier GT300 category had already been decided before the last race - for the Gainer Tanax Nissan GT-R of Macanese veteran Andre Couto. Couto won his very first Super GT championship in the penultimate round at Autopolis two weeks ago. Bathurst 12 Hour hero and Blancpain Endurance Series champion Katsumasa Chiyo, and 23-year-old rookie Ryuichiro Tomita, split co-driver duties throughout the season alongside Couto. They helped drive the team to victories in the series' two biggest races - the Fuji 500km in May, and the International Suzuka 1000km in August. An emotional Couto dedicated the championship to his team, his two young co-drivers, and to the memory of his late son Afonso, who died in 2010 after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

    The final win of the GT300 season went to the apr Toyota Prius GT of Koki Saga and Yuichi Nakayama, in what proved to be the last race for the V8-powered, mid-engined Prius before its retirement from competition. The ever-popular Hatsune Miku SLS of Goodsmile Racing, and drivers Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka, finished second in their last race as the outgoing GT300 champions, ahead of the second Gainer team car - the Mercedes-Benz SLS of Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Bjorn Wirdheim.

    A very special thanks goes out to NISMO TV and Radio Le Mans, who collaborated to broadcast the entire 2015 season for the global audience. All eight races of the 2015 Super GT season may be viewed in perpetuity on the official NISMO YouTube channel.
    • Like Like x 6
  2. airutonpurosuto8912


    Quintarelli is an absolute legend who has 4 titles to his name. 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. If Nissan didn't struggle in 2013 he would have 5 titles.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    Well done Nissan, after a seriously tough time with the prototype programme it's good to see them get some reward for all their hard work.

    Don't get much time to watch the Super GT's these days (tended to watch more when the RX7 was spitting flames on the track) but will try and catch up with some of the races on YouTube :thumbsup:
  4. Very nice write-up, best English-language summary I've yet seen of SuperGT.

    Ronnie has somewhat come from out of nowhere to stand alone at the top of the mountain, but I had no idea Matsuda was already tied with the two legends on race wins.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. R.J. O'Connell

    R.J. O'Connell
    Commentator/Contributor Premium Member

    It's very rare in any series that you see two drivers trading the lead in all-time race victories. Even rarer to see three!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Normally, articles about SuperGT revolves around how the European drivers are doing in the current season, and the English-language coverage by RLM irritatingly assumes any foreigner is the ace/pro driver (okay, that is true in most cases, but still...), while completely ignoring the guys with hard-to-pronounce names and whatever they may have achieved in the past. So your take is a breath of fresh air, thanks again.

    Regarding the race for all time wins, though I've always rooted for Nissan over Toyota, Tachikawa is very impressive in his consistency near the top of GT500 (in a team that's not TOM's). If he'd managed to win it this year, not only would he be the first 4-time champion, but would have done it all for the same team, with all different co-drivers, none of whom were international stars.

    I'm pleased with this season, and Quintarelli is currently the best all-around Nissan driver, but I kind of feel like part of his success has to do with Michelin.