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Super GT Suzuka

NISMO crew 'needs mindset change' after #3 Nissan drubbing

Nissan's flagship NISMO SUPER GT crew needs a change of approach after being shown up by the sister #3 squad last weekend at Suzuka, admits Tsugio Matsuda.

#23 MOTUL AUTECH Z, #3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z

While NDDP Racing duo Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi scorched to a first victory for the new Z GT500 car, Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli toiled to a 12th-place finish on a tough weekend for the #23 side of the NISMO garage.

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Matsuda was knocked out in the opening segment of qualifying on Saturday after losing time when the Kondo Racing Nissan went off the road at Degner Curve and rejoined right in front of Matsuda, costing him precious tenths.

From there, Quintarelli struggled to make much progress in the opening stint, and after a long scrap with the #100 Team Kunimitsu Honda, the #23 Nissan dropped out of the top 10 when Matsuda was awarded a drive-through penalty for rear-ending a Lamborghini GT300 car, again at Degner.

  • Stream every qualifying session and race of the 2022 SUPER GT season only on Motorsport.tv.

It was a disappointing ending to the weekend for the driver pairing that won the last three SUPER GT races at Suzuka, including both races in 2020 and last year's race, with the old GT-R.

"Of course it’s frustrating to miss a fourth straight win [at Suzuka], but I’m glad that Nissan still made it four in a row with the #3 car," Matsuda told Motorsport.com's Japanese edition post-race.

"The tyres were the same specification as car #3, but the set-up concept is different. It seems that the direction car #3 chose was better suited to the conditions this weekend, so it was a race we learned a lot from.

"I think we need to change our approach. We’re used to driving the GT-R, so we need to switch our mindset over to the Z in a number of ways, like with the set-up and our driving style."

 

For his part, Quintarelli said he was shocked to qualify so low down the field after Matsuda set the pace in practice, believing that clearing Q1 for the first time in the 2022 season would be straightforward.

"[Without the time loss in Q1] it was the same laptime as we did in the morning in practice," Quintarelli told Motorsport.com after qualifying. "In the morning, the car was the best it felt all season, and I thought clearing Q1 would be easy. I was really focussed on Q2 this time.

"Chiyo’s laptime was crazy. And even Takaboshi was the first car to attack Q2, looking at the monitors at the behaviour of the car, they had a lot of grip. They had the same tyres as us, but we couldn’t reach that level of grip.

"We couldn’t reach that laptime. They were lighter on handicap weight [12kg versus 30kg], but that would normally be about two tenths."

Heading into the summer break, Matsuda and Quintarelli have slipped to sixth in the standings, 11 points behind Chiyo and Takaboshi, who now hold a joint lead with the #14 Rookie Racing Toyota squad.

But Matsuda is bullish that he and Quintarelli can shine in the next two races at Fuji and Suzuka, both of which will be 450km races.

"There is a sense that the pressure [of having to get the first win for the Z] has loosened," said Matsuda. "Now we’ll do our best to make a comeback. There is another race at Suzuka, where we are strong, and Fuji before that."

Additional reporting by Kazuya Minakoshi

 

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