A Casual Pit Walk At Super GT
A Higher Envelope Of Speed

A race car, by definition, is the epitome of the performance car. It’s the purest form of functionality, carefully designed, planned and in continuous evolution to chase a higher envelope of speed. While street-registered supercars and hypercars must conform to a long list of safety, comfort and homologation requirements – racing machines are raw expressions of what talented engineers can create while sticking to a specific series’ rules. While there are so many forms of motor racing out there, it’s the GT-based series that have always captivated enthusiasts, and for the sole reason that the cars that compete within them have links back to the street cars that you and I can buy.

That’s why the Japanese Super GT series – previously known as the JGTC – has always been my favourite championship to follow. And despite it having been brought more in line with the European DTM series through centralised FIA regulations, it certainly hasn’t lost any of its wow factor.


Although the racing is among some of the closest you will see these days, my fascination – as ever – revolves around the cars that compete in Super GT’s ranks.


That’s why, during a visit to Fuji Speedway last Friday for a few meetings, I made sure my camera was at my side as I made my way up and down the open pits during the afternoon. It was the set up day prior to Sunday’s 500km race, and the energy in the pit garages was electrifying to say the least.


While it’s hard to ignore the fact that the GT500 class has been massively watered down with every car now having to run with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged powertrain, the actual ‘models’ that the three Works-entered Japanese manufacturers campaign is quite interesting.


Take Honda for example. Once new front-engine regulations came into play in 2010, the NSX’s long and mighty history in the series came to an end; replaced by the HSV-010GT and then this – the NSX Concept. So that makes it two cars in a row that aren’t actually based on a road car as the rules for Super GT have always stipulated. Confused? Me too… But I guess the new NSX will actually make its debut soon, so it was only the HSV that really stretched the rules.


Of course, it was all in an attempt to keep Honda in GT500, and honestly, I’m not sure where Super GT would be today had the Japanese manufacturer left. But twisting and bending of rules aside, cars like the HSV-010GT and NSX Concept never made Super GT any less interesting. In fact, you could say those Hondas have added to the appeal, as we’ve got to see crazy race version of concepts battling out with the likes of the Nissan GT-R and the Lexus SC.


The Autobacs Racing Team Aguri had another entrant sitting in the pits behind their GT500 NSX Concept.


Their CR-Z that’s entered in GT300 hasn’t been regulated by the rules that have changed the GT500 landscape, so it’s still running a twin turbocharged J35A 2.8-liter V6 engine in the rear mid-mount position, mated to a Ricardo 6-speed sequential.


Despite their standardised drivelines, there’s no stopping the lure of a GT500 car though.


Throughout the morning cars were being pushed out in front of the pit garages so that each team’s crew could mark down with coloured tape the precise pit-in position.


This then allowed them to set up their equipment, further marking off wheel position outside the garage so that the tyre changers and those on refuelling duty would know exactly where they needed to be during a frantic stop.

It’s All In The Mix

The Nismo R35 of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Masuda took the win on Sunday, pushing the team up in third position in the championship behind the Impul GT-R in second place and the TOM’s Keeper Lexus RC F of Andrea Cladarelli and Ryo Hirakawa in first. Two Italians in the top three teams – just thought I’d put that out there…


One of my favourite cars from the last few years of Super GT competition is the Studie BMW entry. Seeing it again brought back memories of shooting trackside at the Hakone Hill Climb event that Motorhead magazine organized last year. What a beast of a car!


While we’re on the subject of race-ready, factory GT3 racers, in my opinion the R35 is still the best looking of them all. Seriously, just look at this thing! At the risk of sounding like a broken record though, Nissan and Nismo are absolutely bonkers not creating a limited edition GT3 version of the car for the street. Maybe it would have to run slightly less pumped fenders, but if they ever decided to make, say, 50 of these cars, I’m sure they’d all be snapped up in less than an hour. So come on Nissan, live dangerously for once. We don’t need a Nismo March or Note, we need a rear-wheel drive, stripped-out GT-R GT3! Is anyone else with me on this?


For how hot the GT-R still manages to look, there’s no denying that visually it’s getting a little long in the tooth when compared to entires like the Lexus RC F.


‘F’ of course stands for Fuji – how appropriate!


It really looks like this car has come from the future – a combination of the flowing and organic design that can be found in the street car it’s based upon, and a massively-wider stance that’s dropped right down to the ground so that the front wheel arches sit higher than the bonnet. It spells aggression from every angle, and I was lucky enough that Team Denso Sard allowed me to shoot their car right then and there in pit lane. I only had what seemed like two minutes to get it done – and for obvious reasons wasn’t allowed to grab any shots of the engine bay – but you can expect a feature on this car coming up very shortly.


After the impromptu shoot I couldn’t help but drool at the sea of Bridgestone-shod BBS rims sitting in Team Denso Sard’s pit garage. The RC F, like all GT500 cars, runs 18×12-inch wheels with 300/680R18 rubber at the front and a monstrous 18×13-inch and 330/40R18 combo at the rear. There are three other tyre manufacturers competing in GT500: Yokohama, Michelin and Dunlop – and like Bridgestone they all run their own specific tyre coding for the 12J and 13J widths.


Of the 15 cars battling it out in GT500, six of them are RC Fs, five of them are NSXs and four are GT-Rs.


In comparison, the GT300 class had 29 cars competing at Fuji, and there’s greater diversity too. While the Audi R8s, 911s and SLSs are cool, the one car that I’ve really wanted to get a closer look at is the Toyota 86 MC that teams like Bandoh have started using.


It’s another example of how the modern day Hachiroku lends itself to so many racing disciplines.


Luckily Team Mach had their car sitting in the pit without the bonnet in place as they were finalising the alignment.


Like all GT cars, the engine sits as low as possible in the chassis for optimal weight distribution. In this case it’s a 4.5-liter naturally aspirated V8 that develops over 450hp and 500Nm, albeit restricted to 300hp to meet class regulations.


It joins cars like the SLS AMG GT3 and Studie Z4 GT4 in bringing that unmistakable V8 roar to Super GT.


I still can’t believe Mercedes dropped production of the SLS so quickly to move onto the recently-released AMG GT. It’ll be cool to see how many teams switch over to the new platform next year, but I’ll be sad to see those gull-wing doors go!

GT300 Rules!

As is the case with pretty much all race-spec Porsches, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of a purposely built 911 race car. Case in point: the Team KTR 997 GT3R.


Andre Couto and Katsumasa Chiyo took the GT3 class win on Sunday with their Garner GT-R GT3, proving that despite the car’s age, it’s still very much at the top of its game.


As in GT500, there are five GT-Rs competing in GT300 – this particular example being the Dijon Racing car of Takamori and Tanaka.


The R&D Sport BRZ that I featured a few seasons back hasn’t had too much success over the years. At Fuji this past weekend however, it finished up in 8th position, which is a decent result for a team that’s always been struggling. The car continues to run R&D Sport’s EJ20 race motor; the team preferring to stick with a compact motor rather than switching to a V8.


Every time I see the GT300 CR-Z I can’t stop wondering what an amazing little car the street version could be. Will Honda ever give the compact chassis the powertrain it really deserves though – that’s the question!


We first saw the Cars Tokai Dream28 Lotus Evora at the Tokyo Auto Salon earlier in the year, but it looked far better in the pits at Fuji than it did artificially lit inside a car show! Being a completely new build – and a private entry – understandably it hasn’t proved to be super-competive yet, but given how hard the drivers and crew work I think it’s only going to be a matter of time.


If anything, it’s been one of the most inspiring cars in the Super GT Championship this year. One thing I noticed was how the rear diffuser/extractor and exhausts have been changed since we saw them last. Up-turned exhaust tips have also been added, along with curved top section for the diffuser.


Itasha McLaren MP4-12C GT3? But of course, this is Japan after all!


There was at least one RC F in the pit that day that sounded, well, like an RC F really should! The LMcorsa RC F GT3 runs a restricted version of the 2UR-GSE and is piloted by the legendary Akira Iida of Chockets. It’s also run out of OTG Racing, who you might recognise as the shop that dropped a NASCAR V8 into Imamura’s D1 LFA.


So there you have it, a pit walk that I hope has given you a taste of this year’s Super GT grid. I plan to cover the final race in Motegi this autumn – an event that I haven’t shot at since 2004. Now that will bring back some memories!

Be sure to  check out the Super GT website for more info on the series and continuous updates throughout the season.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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Touring cars, doesn't seem to matter what continent they're on, are all awesome. From DTM to V8 Supercars and everything in between. It's doesn't even matter that many have gone from production based to full on tube frame bespoke chassis and engines. Maybe it's because you can still see the original street version behind all the massive guards and splitters. 

Just remember "No body contact..."











乙未年(羊)三月廿十 2015-5-8


peter_ayers  Theyre cool but too far away from the production cars imo.


Smiggins I agree 100%, I am under no illusion that they are anywhere near the production cars they are made to look like. It's just cool that they make the effort to make them (if ever so slightly) resemble the cars they are meant to be. Like superhero versions of normal people cars...


Wow, these photos are INSANE!!


Great photos as always Dino! Thanks for the great SuperGT coverage! You should let everyone know that NISMO TV on YouTube has been doing a great job doing live broadcasts of al the SuperGT races with Radio LeMans commentary in English. Great commentators and great coverage for those that want to watch the races.

Looking forward to the feature on the RC F.

Any chance that you know what material is used on the inner fender liners on a lot of these cars? It always looks to be some sort of yellow material but I can't tell if it's kevlar or what it is.

The average guy

To me, the new styling of the new NSX is a bit too chaotic. Looks like they took a "normal" midengine car, and let a drunk Hattori Hanzo go rampage on it, with sharp samurai blades. Too many edges.

 I'm in love with the SLS tho, instant classic..


andrewhake Thanks!! That would be Kevlar yes, though as nails so perfect material to be used on those sort of places


Can anyone explain what the strange shaped vent out the rear of the Honda (Picture 3) is? It doesn't really look like exhaust and has quiet an intricate mesh or turbine shape inside the opening?
Great coverage as per usual!


Great feature Dino. Glad to see Japanese creativity still alive and kicking in GT300, I do think it's a shame GT500 has been DTM'd but there were reasons somewhere I guess!


All these Liveries are amazing!! 
I spent a good 20 mins just picking at the finer details. 
Thanks for the great coverage as usual Dino!


Oh yeah, Love Live McLaren..
I'd like to see that in Blancpain GT Series

turbo BEAMS ae86

Lachys114 that are exhaust, believe was a noise reduction device..(sorry for potato english)


Dayum that Evora looks insane!


I think the GTR is in dire need of an aesthetic do-over. The thing performs, and if i'm not mistaken they're improved every year since like 2007. The outside though.... dare I say the draping body panels remind me of GM vehicles? 
I NEEDS to look the part. With that said the front end of the GTR is very menacing on its own.


I would like to point out that no car in Super GT has been limited to 300 and 500hp respectively since the late 1990s. The current GT500 cars aren't "watered down" over the JAF regs, they're essentially "jumped up" - 700hp prototypes that do give LMP1s a run for their money. GT300 GT3 cars run fairly close to Blancpain BOP - the tyres etc mean they are about 3 seconds quicker than a GTE car. The actual JAFGT300s run from 450 to just over 500. This is why 2013 saw a bit of trouble - some of the GT300s were matching the GT500s in a straight line, some weren't far off in cornering pace (since there was only about 100/50hp in it, with very similar chassis regs), so lapping got tricky.

The power rules are a very, very common misconception, only fueled by secrecy, but once you add up the relative times their power levels do become apparent.


Lachys114 three-way external catalytic converter that was made mandatory in 2010.


FelixRigby I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it, lol (not to mention, you said it more eloquently...) I'd like to add that smaller engine displacement creates less of a need for those idiotic intake restrictor band-aids. I think it would be more interesting and less counter-productive to limit engine displacement even further (say 1.0L 3-cylinders) and just telling manufacturers to "go nuts". Maybe put some limits on engine longevity as well, so you don't end up with 1500 hp qualifying-only "time bombs" à la 1980s F1... This would also make the race car engines more relatable to the downsized and lower-rpm engines in modern production cars.

Fixthe Fernback

No Prius? I has a sad...


@B FelixRigby I don't want Class 1 to standardise everything as it aims to. I want GT500 to at least stay as fast as it is now, and open it up to innovation and development (as you propose). I'm only 15 so I don't expect to come across as eloquent at all times, even though I aim for it of course, so many thanks for the compliment. ;)


We need more gt500 coverage
Everyone goes to japan for drifting but the first thing i would do in japan is going to a gt500 race


Jeeze these pics are amazing! Love the GT coverage. Good Job!


Kind of depressing looking at how much the GT300 class has changed in the last 15 years. At one time the gt300 class had 48 cars entered, many from privateers and smaller tuning companies; the cars were either highly modified road going versions, or amazing sillhouette racers that closely(visually) resembled the road going car while sharing quite a few parts(sometimes they retained the OEM engine). What I loved about the GT300 class was that the cars were based on affordable cars at the time. If you were inspired by the Wedssport Celica, you could go and buy a Celica on a working man's budget, if you loved the Arta MR-S, you could go down to a Toyota dealership and buy an MR-S without breaking the bank. Though the cars substantially differed from the stock versions in terms of engine layout and modifications in the most part, you could be a poor man driving a car that was the base for a successful JGTC car. I understand that the average GT300 class cars had well over 20 million yen invested into them, but to at least own a car that a GT300 car was based on was enough for most people who were fans of the sport.

Now the GT300 class is littered with high dollar european sports cars that are damn near unobtainable to your average Super GT fan. As a fan of Super GT I've felt a real disconnect between the sport and the fans, because it's just become another version of DTM with their damn rules and regulations. The only car I hope to see win this year is the GT86, as I feel that it really pays homage to the JGTC GT300 class of old.


Awesome photos!! I can't get enough Super GT, we need more :). I've been watching the Radio Lemans broadcasts of the races starting last year. I find it to be the most entertaining form of GT racing right now.
Even though the GT500 cars are pure racecar, there's still a connection to street cars, if just visual, which is really appealing. Although I am somewhat saddened by the lack of diversity due to the new DTM regulations, I think it will serve well In the long run. There's already talk of having Super GT cars in DTM, and DTM cars in Super GT (although in current form, the DTM cars would get smoked). They're also talking about having GT500 teams compete at Le Mans and other global events. In 2014, the Super GT cars were lapping Fuji faster than the WEC LMP1 cars were, so it's definitely a possibility.
I think a lot of racing series could learn a thing from Super GT, in terms of how accessible it is to the fans (well, until now, accessible if you live in Japan...). I also think Super GT is the runaway winner when it comes to using racecars as marketing tools. Many of the most memorable liveries in the last 20-30 years in all of Motorsport have been from JGTC/Super GT....and they still exist today!! How instantly recognizable is the CALSONIC GTR, or the Raybrig NSX?!
I think the new GT300 is great too. The diversity of chassis and engines being used is pretty insane. And then to have them all race that competitively against each other is a testament to the organizers.
I do somewhat miss seeing cars which looked like entry level sports cars (RX7, Celica, Impreza, Silvia, MR2, etc)...but other than looks, they were all racecar. I think the GT300 field could look more like that again, but there aren't that many entry level sports cars on the market anymore. I'm sure if Mazda does a new RX7, or if Nissan did an S16, you would see it in GT300 pretty quickly.
Also, the platform which both that GT86 and Lotus Evora are built on (it's a carbon fiver monocoque, built by Dome I believe) will allow a privateer team to slap almost any kind of shell on that they can imagine. Once more teams get that platform figured out, my guess is we'll start seeing even more diversity in GT300, at least in the visual department.


speedhunters_dino andrewhake Thanks for the info!




zemanski I'll hit up a few more races this year :)


Twitch_6 It sure is one of the best series out there, for both diversity, closeness of racing and the cars. I'd love to see GT mix up with DTM


KeithSimister Thank you!


JustinOdijk I'll hit up a few more reaces this year don't worry


@Fixthe Fernback There is one


IIRC, the new "NSX" is not front engined...they actually did a lot of work to lobby and develop the MR layout for the DTM spec safety cell, since they were not designed to do that initially...


atflorio #2 looks like the Picchio DP. I love their liberal rule book.


ToddPMcQ the 2 is a highly modified Lotus.


atflorio V8 or Turbo?


atflorio Now that is extreme way of producing downforce. is it competitive?


ToddPMcQ from what I've read, not yet, but I don't follow the series closely. There is english commentary of races via RLM up on youtube.


atflorio Gt500 looks a tad spec but 300 has a great mix of Asian and Euro entries. http://youtu.be/lwtni9bfxQ4


ToddPMcQ yeah, I think GT500 budgets exploded. I think they are all running the same engines in that class now.


atflorio DTMish


ToddPMcQ actually no joke that is where it was/is going. DTM + GT500 + US DTM was the orig plan. All same regs.


Any chance you could make it to the round at Sugo?? That track flies under the radar compared to Suzuka, Fuji, Motegi, etc...but it's freakin' beautiful!! It still has that old school character, with the dense forest close to the track, and that high speed final corner!! You know you want to :P


I will explain about Love Live Mclaren.
That is Pacific Racing Team's MP4-12C called Pacific Racing Team with μ's (μ's is Love Live group idol's name meaning 9 singing goddess). From it's design, all of body's color is pink and purple on below. This color inspired from Love Live upcoming movie Love Live The School Idol Movie. μ's are featured on left door (Honoka, Eli, Kotori, Umi) and right door (Rin, Maki, Hanayo, Nico).
As you know last race on May, 3rd 2015 at Fuji Speedway, Love Live MP4-12C is DNF. That's too bad. And distance of race is 500 Km.


So many awesomes the "NSX" and Lexus look amazing!!! 

Seems to me that Toyota should have just sold the 86 without an engine from the start. nobody keeps the FA20 paperweight.


Great feature, I love getting a close look at these top drawer race machines.
A GTR GT3 road car gets my vote!


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