Nissan has its sights set on reclaiming the Super GT GT500 crown when the championship kicks off this weekend at Okayama in Japan.
After claiming back-to-back titles in 2014-15 with Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda, the No. 23 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 came close to more championship success in the past two years.
Quintarelli and Matsuda led the points until the final race weekend in 2016 and won the final race last year but missed out on the title by a mere three points.
Okayama has been a happy hunting ground for Nissan in the past with Quintarelli and Matsuda winning there in 2016, Matsuda and JP de Oliveira taking victory in 2011 and de Oliveira also winning in 2009.
This week’s opening round of the championship will be live streamed on NISMO.tv on YouTube.
While the Quintarelli/Matsuda combination will join forces for their fifth season together, Nissan enters the season with an updated lineup with former GT300-winning squad B-Max Racing with NDDP making its GT500 debut with Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo.
Other lineup changes include Daiki Sasaki joining Jann Mardenborough at Team IMPUL, while last year’s Japanese Formula 3 champion Mitsunori Takaboshi joins de Oliveira at Kondo Racing.
The Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 machines also have been updated for 2018.
“We had a really good car at the end of last year, but during the off-season, NISMO worked hard to improve the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 even more,” Quintarelli said.
“Aerodynamically, the car has changed in a few key areas, and we are confident we have made a good step forward.
“Under Super GT regulations we can only use two engines throughout the entire year, but our engine guys have also worked hard on improvements too.”
Extensive pre-season testing has included runs at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit as well as at Motegi, Fuji and Okayama in Japan.
“In the Sepang tests we tried the new aerodynamics, and the car felt much better to drive under hard-braking corners,” Quintarelli said.
“In Japan, we finalized the car set-up based on new aerodynamic spec and are happy about the base we have now.”
“I’m very motivated for the year ahead. Tsugio [Matsuda] and I are going to give it our best shot, and my target is to chase down my fifth Super GT title.”
Sunday’s opening round will go green at 2:40 pm Japan time on April 8.
International fans can watch the live stream at live on NISMO.tv in Europe and the U.S., from 7:30 a.m. CET/1:30 a.m. ET.