Nissan downplays title chances despite shock Suzuka win

Jamie Klein
·2 min read

Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda launched themselves back into contention for a third GT500 crown as a duo with a shock win in last weekend’s Suzuka round, triumphing from the back of the grid following Matsuda’s heavy qualifying crash.

The win, which was made possible because of the timing of a mid-race safety car, puts NISMO pair Quintarelli and Matsuda just two points away from the top of the drivers’ standings with two races left to run at Motegi and Fuji Speedway.

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-RMasahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio

Quintarelli pitted the #23 Nissan on lap 22 of 52 at Suzuka, with the safety car slowing the field and allowing Matsuda to rejoin at the head of the field.

Matsuda was then tasked with defending from the lighter Impul Nissan of Kazuki Hiramine for the remaining laps once the safety car came in.

Suzuki believes that had Matsuda not emerged from the pits in the lead, it’s unlikely he would have been able to pass Hiramine on-track.

“The tyres were in good shape, so we thought about going long, but there’s always the possibility of a safety car, so we were always ready to come in,” said Suzuki.

“And then, by good fortune the monitor showed [the caution-triggering crash for the Saitama Toyopet Supra], and I thought, ‘This is it!’. Within a few seconds I told [Quintarelli] to pit. It was one of those situations where everything worked out well, including the timing.

“If we had been delayed by one or two seconds, we would have been passed by car 12 [the Impul Nissan]. And because we were both very competitive, had car 12 got ahead I think it would have been extremely difficult to repass.

“I think the positions would have been reversed with just a one or two second delay.”

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-RMasahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio