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Super GT Okayama

Nissan Z qualifying showing hampered by "safe" tyre choice

Nissan SUPER GT driver Ronnie Quintarelli admits a "safe" tyre choice compromised the marque's qualifying showing at Okayama with the new Z, as he and NISMO teammate Tsugio Matsuda qualified ninth.

#23 MOTUL AUTECH Z

Quintarelli and Matsuda will start Sunday's opening round of the 2022 season from the fifth row after dropping out in the opening segment of qualifying, Matsuda missing out on a Q2 spot by just 0.061 seconds.

That was despite Matsuda setting the quickest lap at the end of the morning's practice session with a time a tenth faster than the Rookie Racing Toyota that would go on to score pole.

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While both Michelin-shod Nissans dropped out in Q1, with the #3 NDDP car managing only 14th place, both the Kondo Racing Z on Yokohamas and the Impul machine on Bridgestones advanced to the pole shootout, qualifying fourth and seventh respectively.

Quintarelli admitted that he and Matsuda would have been better using the softer-option Michelin tyre they had used in practice, but nonetheless hopes for a top-five finish in Sunday's 300km opener.

"When I saw Matsuda set a 1m17.6s, I was sure [it was enough for Q2], it was three tenths faster than the #3 car," the Italian driver told Motorsport.com. "Then the other cars came. I’m quite disappointed.

"We didn’t use the same tyres that we used at the end of practice, we went conservative, more looking at race pace. It was the ‘safe’ option to check our potential in the race. Seeing the laptimes in Q2, I think we had the chance to fight for Q3 [if we made it through].

"Let’s see, P9 is not a disaster and we have good tyres for the race. I don’t think we can fight for the victory, but our aim is to try and finish in the top five, and then to check what we are missing. We are still working on the tyre development so it’s important to have a consistent race and collect data for the next rounds."

 

Pressed further on the tyre choice, Quintarelli added: "We were really doubting [which way to go]. My feeling was to go with the aggressive side because the Michelin tyre wear improved compared to the past, it was nice to see the improvement [in practice].

"If it was the last race of the season, for sure we would go aggressive, but we wanted to see our potential with the safer choice."

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Baguette bullish about Impul race pace

Impul pair Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine will likewise be aiming to push forward in the race after not reaching their full potential in qualifying.

Baguette, who was six tenths slower in Q2 than the pole-sitting Toyota of Kazuya Oshima, said he is banking on the straight line speed of the new Z to be able to make progress come Sunday.

"I think we have really good race pace," Baguette told Motorsport.com. "We saw during the Full Course Yellow test, when everyone is on full tanks and used tyres, we were P1. Kazuki did an amazing job in Q1, on my side I struggled a bit, a few mistakes on my lap and I think it cost me P4.

"I’m a little disappointed because we could have been better. But it’s only my first qualifying with Nissan, so I can only improve from here.

"The strategy will be straightforward, everyone will pit around the same time as always, so I just hope our race pace will allow us to overtake the guy in front. In testing we were quite fast in a straight line so I hope that allows us to overtake.

"If we can finish in the top five it would be positive because it’s a new car and I don’t think this is our strongest track. Fuji and Suzuka should be better."

 

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