Ronnie Quintarelli says he's convinced that the 2021 SUPER GT season will be a "different situation" for Nissan as it won't have to repeat last year's painful learning process.
Nissan's latest iteration of the GT-R scored two wins last season in the hands of Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda at Suzuka, but struggled for competitiveness at Fuji, which hosted half of the eight races on a coronavirus-impacted 2020 schedule.
The Yokohama marque also suffered a slow start to the year as it got to grips with reliability issues across its four entries in the top GT500 class.
Despite falling short of what would have been a fifth title in the Fuji finale, Quintarelli told Motorsport.com that he was encouraged by the way Nissan was able to turn around its slow start to get back into championship contention by the close of the season.
Asked if this year will be easier for Nissan because of everything the marque has learned in 2020, Quintarelli replied: "That’s right. Not just the car, there was also the [common] ECU, the Bosch system, we struggled a lot at the beginning.
"Nissan doesn’t have any other championships where they use the Bosch system, so we need to start from zero. And it was one of our weakest points at the beginning, from an engine point of view. When we were missing engine performance earlier in the year, it’s not just about horsepower, it’s these kinds of settings.
"Throughout the season we improved a lot. At the start of the season it was not easy to drive the car, but we improved a lot. It was a season where we could improve step by step, and it was good for figuring out our good and weak points."
Ronnie Quintarelli（#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R）
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Quintarelli is also convinced that a more regular schedule in 2021 will help Nissan in its bid to earn its first GT500 title since 2015.
"We just had three circuits this year and looking back and Fuji is the one that doesn’t suit our car, and to have four races here is not the best for us," said the Italian.
"For sure there are many more tracks where you need more downforce than Fuji. If we can run those tracks, which were on this year’s schedule originally, it will be a different situation."
Nissan first introduced the GT-R as the basis for its GT500 challenger in 2008, and has stuck by the model in the face of newer competition from Toyota's GR Supra (introduced this year), and Honda's NSX-GT (first used in 'Concept' guise in 2014).
NISMO COO Motohiro Matsumura told Motorsport.com he remains convinced that the GT-R is still capable of matching its newer rivals in the GT500 class.
"In the GT-R's history, every year the base model production car has been improved," Matsumura said. "That’s why vehicle development continues to be possible.
"The GT-R is the current top sports model of Nissan. Globally, everybody recognises that it’s a great sports car. So, at least for the moment, it needs to be kept - also because the fans require that the GT-R wins!
"From a general standpoint, if there are more tight corner circuits like Okayama or Sugo [on next year's schedule], we have some opportunities, I think."
#23 NISMO Nissan GT-R: Tsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli