Baguette braced for tough all-Nissan fight in Motegi finale

Impul Nissan driver Bertrand Baguette is braced for a tough battle against the points-leading NDDP Racing car for SUPER GT title honours as the two Z crews will start together on the grid for Sunday's Motegi finale.

#12 Calsonic IMPUL Z

Baguette bagged the best grid position of the year for the #12 Calsonic Z in Saturday's Q2 pole shootout, as he qualified third behind the pole-winning Kunimitsu Honda and Racing Project Bandoh Toyota.

It puts he and teammate Kazuki Hiramine one place ahead of the #3 Nissan of Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi, which holds a slender 2.5-point lead over the Impul pair at the head of the standings.

Key to deciding the title will be whether the Impul squad's Bridgestone tyres can perform at the same level as the Michelin rubber used by the NISMO-run NDDP squad, as both teams vie to end a seven-year losing streak for Nissan.

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"In practice even if we did the best time, we had a lot of issues with the set-up, but we did some changes and the feeling on new tyres was really good," Baguette told

"Still we have a big job to do tomorrow, we know Michelin has good race pace and they will be there fighting until the end. In free practice we did similar pace, starting in the low 1m38s and finishing in the high 1m38s. Let’s see if the temperature changes that, but they will be there, no doubt."


Baguette admitted to some concerns that the Michelin tyre could have stronger warm-up come the start of the race than the Bridgestones, as evidenced by the fact that Takaboshi left it relatively late to exit the pits in Q2.

"The #19 [Bandoh Toyota on Yokohama tyres] I think will have a slow warm-up, the #3 has a strong warm-up, and we are somewhere in between," Baguette said. "We will have to keep them behind not just for the first lap, but for the whole race. They will be on our exhaust for the whole race."

Matsushita admits title chances "tough" from P10

While the two title-contending Nissans will share the second row on the grid on Sunday, the third-placed car in the standings, the #17 Real Racing Honda of Koudai Tsukakoshi and Nobuharu Matsushita, will start down in P10.

Matsushita admitted the #17 crew is using a "slightly different" spec of tyre to the pole-winning #100 Team Kunimitsu Honda, and feels this is part of the reason he missed out on a Q2 spot.

"We are still analysing, but we couldn’t find a match between the balance and the tyres," he told "The tyres seem to be the issue. The temperature is going down quite a lot during Q1. We think that’s the main problem.

"Tomorrow we still have a chance from P10, so I don’t want to give up. I think everyone’s race pace is quite similar, but there’s a chance if something happens.

"I need to pass some cars at the start, and then try to keep a good pace, do a good strategy and pitstop, we have to be in front of them [the #3 and #12 Nissans]. That’s the target.

"But the gap is four points, so if we are around P4, P5, and they are just behind us, it’s not enough. It’s tough."


Baguette isn't discounting the prospects of his former team Real recovering from its poor qualifying, citing he and Hiramine's victory from last on the grid at Suzuka in August - which was helped by a well-timed safety car period.

"If you can have a safety car or full-course yellow at the right time, you can come back," he said. "At Suzuka we won from last, they can win from P10 as well."

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