After a wet and slippery start to the 2019 Super GT series, skies are looking clear for the Suzuka 300km this weekend at the home of the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The Circuit

Suzuka Circuit

Suzuka Circuit – Mie Prefecture, Japan
Circuit Length 5.807 km / 3.609 mi Opened 1962
Capacity 155,000 Direction ‘Figure of Eight’

The famous Suzuka GP Circuit is featured once again here on Motorsportm8, after the thrilling Super Formula opener earlier in the year.

This year’s event marks the second time the Suzuka 300km has been run in Super GT, with the race previously being a whopping 1000 kilometre endurance race. The Suzuka 300Km still promises an action-packed race however, with a tighter shorter race forcing teams enact strategies sooner rather than later.

The Event

2019 AUTOBACS Super GT Suzuka 300 Km – Provisional Schedule
Event Dates 25-26 May 2019 Free Practice Session 1
Sat 08:50-10:35
Qualifying Session 1 Sat 14:40-15:15 Qualifying Session 2 Sat 15:25-15:53
Warm-up Session Sun 12:55-13:15 Race (52 laps)
Sun 14:30

All session times quoted in Japan Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 9:00)

Rewind to 2018

Last year’s Suzuka 300Km was a clean sweep for the pole sitters across both the GT500 and GT300 classes – Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa took the win in their #8 Arta NSX-GT in the GT500 class and Morio Nitta and Yuichi Nakayama won the GT300 class in their #96 K-Tunes RC-F GT3 car.

The #8 Honda NSX-GT held pole position the entire race, with Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto holding second position in their #100 Honda NSX-GT after qualifying second-fastest. Nick Cassidy and his teammate Ryo Hirakawa finished third in their #1 KeePer Toms Lexus LC500.

In the GT300 class the #96 K-Tunes Lexus RC-F GT3 started from pole and eventually win the race. The first lap of the race saw several position changes, with the #25 Hoppy Toyota GT86 MC slipping five places and the #7 D’Station Porsche gaining two places. The #96 K-Tunes RC-F spent the start of the race gaining a significant lead over the rest of the pack, however a Safety Car called on lap 13 by an accident in the GT500 race caused the lead to quickly disappear.

After several cars opting for a no-tyre change pit stop, the battle for first and second places was a toss up between seven cars, the #96 K-Tunes RC-F, the #0 Goodsmile Racing Mercedes AMG, the #18 UpGarage Toyota GT86 MC, the #61 Subaru R&D Sport BRZ, the #88 Manepa Lamborghini GT3, the #65 Leon Mercedes AMG and the #60 Syntium LmCorsa Lexus RC-F GT3.

Eventually, the #96 K-Tunes RC-F GT3 regained the lead and Morio Nitta and Yuichi Nakayama ran away with the victory. Filling out the podium was the #25 Hoppy GT86 MC driven by Takamitsu Matsui/Sho Tsuboi and the #61 Subaru R&D Sport BRZ driven by Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi in second and third respectively.

The Suzuka Form Guide

After a disastrous start to the season where the previous two rounds have been severely rain-affected, it’s still difficult to tell who will come out on top for this race. Will the two GT500 Nissan GTR’s – Calsonic and Motul (Kohei Hirate/ Frederic Makowiecki, Daiki Sasaki/ Jamie Rossiter respectively) – finally realise expectations and win a race? Will Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto gain some vital points to defend their championship?

There is sad news in the GT300 class for the #25 Hoppy Toyota GT86 MC car. After their crash in Round 1 at Okyama, the team is considering pulling out of the rest of the 2019 season in order to save money for the 2020 season. Meanwhile in the GT300 class, the #88 Manepa Lamborghini launches with a slightly revised livery for this race; hopefully the new paint job can help the team to extend its lucky streak, after placing third in the last round. Otherwise, the #55 Arta NSX GT3 continues to look like a strong contender for the season, after successes in the first two rounds. However, as the weather clears up in the land of the rising sun, both the GT300 and GT500 championships are up for grabs.

Image via Super GT

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Keegan Bennett

Journalist - Japanese Motorsport at MotorsportM8

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