2016 Super GT finale: Can Matsuda and Quintarelli take third consecutive title
The 2016 Japanese Super GT Series season will come to an end with a double-header event at Twin Ring Motegi on November 11-13. It will be the first two-race event in the history of the series. The reason for that is the cancellation of the Round 3, scheduled for Autopolis in May, due to the earthquake in Kumamoto. It was decided that the Round 3 will take place at Motegi on Saturday, November 12. A day later, the regular Round 8 will take place at the same circuit.
Two 250-km races are bringing 42 points in total to the GT500 and GT300 drivers (20 points for wins and one point for pole), so theoretically more than a half of the grid can capture the 2016 titles. This situation can guarantee fierce battles in both categories in both races. Of course, the reality is something else. Mathematically speaking, sixteen GT500 drivers are inside those 42 points, but realistically, only eight or nine could be involved in the title fight. In GT300 class, fourteen teams are inside that margin.
GT500 class: Ten-points advantage for Matsuda and Quintarelli
In the GT500 class, double champions Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli are in the best position to win their third consecutive title. The duo in the #1 Motul Autech Nissan GT-R scored two wins at the beginning of the season (Okayama and Fuji 500) but later missed the podiums and they collected 56 points in total. On the other side, Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli didn’t win any race this year in the #6 Wako’s Lexus RC F, but their consistency paid off, so they are currently in the second place, ten points below the leaders.
Another Lexus crew, Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa in the #38 Zent Cerumo car, collected 45 points, most of them with Suzuka 1000 victory. The same amount of points is on the account of the #39 Denso Kobelco SARD Lexus crew – Kohei Hirate and Heikki Kovalainen. The freshly crowned Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto is in the fifth place of GT500 classification, together with his Super Formula rival Yuhi Sekiguchi, who is his teammate in the #19 WedsSport Bandoh Lexus RC F. They collected 41 points.
Behind four Lexus crews, there is one more Nissan squad – Hironobu Yasuda and Joao Paulo de Oliveira in the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R. They have a 20-point deficit. The best Honda team is the #17 Keihin with Koudai Tsukakoshi and Takashi Kogure in the tenth place. They are 29 points behind the leaders and it’s hard to believe that they could be involved in the title fight.
It’s crowded at the top of GT300 class
In GT300 class, fourteen teams are inside the 42-point margin and all of them could catch at least the podium in the final classification. The winners of previous Thai round, Takeshi Tsuchiya and Takamitsu Matsui, are the point leaders with #25 VivaC Toyota 86 MC. The second-placed crew is five points down, but the gap between P2 and P5 is just five points, so every single change in the race classification could be decisive.
Kazuki Hoshino and Jann Mardenborough (#3 B-MAX NDDP Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3) are in the second place, ahead of Shinichi Takagi and Takashi Kobayashi (#55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3). The Top 5 is completed by Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi (#61 R&D Sport Subaru BRZ) and Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama (#31 apr Toyota Prius GT).