Super GT

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Super GT
SuperGTLogo.jpg
Category Gran Turismo
Country Japan Japan
Malaysia Malaysia
Inaugural season 1993
Teams 15 (GT500)
25 (GT300) (total: 40)
Drivers' champion GT500:
Japan Kohei Hirate
Japan Yuji Tachikawa
GT300:
Japan Hideki Mutoh
Japan Yuhki Nakayama
Teams' champion GT500: Cerumo
GT300: Team Mugen
Makes' champion GT500: Lexus
GT300: Honda
Official website Super GT.net
Motorsport current event.svg Current season

The Super GT series is a grand touring car racing series that began in 1993. Originally titled as the Zen Nihon GT Senshuken (全日本GT選手権?), generally referred to as either the JGTC or the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, the series was renamed to Super GT in 2005.

The event is sponsored by the GT-Association. Though the JGTC was authorized by the Japan Automobile Federation and recognized by the FIA, the Super GT is authorized directly by FIA.

History[edit]

The JGTC Years[edit]

The JGTC (Japanese Grand Touring Championship)[1] — established in 1993[2][3] by the JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) via its subsidiary company the GT-A (GT Association) — replaced the defunct All Japan Sports Prototype Championship for Group C cars (that was terminated by the end of 1994) and in the same year Japanese Touring Car Championship for Group A touring cars, which would adopt the supertouring formula which was used worldwide. Seeking to prevent the spiraling budgets and one-team/make domination of both series, JGTC imposed strict limits on power, and heavy weight penalties on race winners in an openly stated objective to keep on-track action close with an emphasis on keeping the race goers happy.

2003 Xanavi nismo GT-R (R34).

In its first ever race, which was also an IMSA GT exhibition race, apart from the GTS and GTU cars from the United States series, as with the rest of the season, the grid consisted of mostly Japan Sport Sedan cars with the only genuine JGTC cars being two Nissan Skyline GT-Rs entered by NISMO, which were in fact modified Group A cars. The prototypes and European GT cars would only appear one race to be joined by the IMSA and Group N cars at the Suzuka 1000 km.

For the following season, the series would undergo a rules overhaul, class 1 for cars similar to that of the FIA's GT1 category and class 2 for cars that were the equivalent to the GT2 category. The JSS series would altogether dissolve into the latter category. What made the series more significant was compared to the series from other countries, JGTC teams had at the time the freedom to enter whichever cars they preferred, even if it was the JSS cars from the inaugural season and IMSA GTS spaceframe racers. The Group C prototypes, whilst easily showing dominant form, were banished at the end of the 1994 season.

By the end of the season, as the cost of attaining a FIA's GT1 cars increased dramatically, in order to keep costs down and determined not to go the same way as the JSPC series it replaced, the GT-A would go through another rules overhaul. This time was a change adoption of the newly formed GT500 and GT300 regulation which capped cars depending on weight and brake horsepower with an air restrictor. In 2002, the GT-A made another rule change, this time because the series had been intended to be a GT championship; this meant all competing cars must remain as two doors, while a special waiver was given to allow Cusco Racing to race their Subaru Impreza sedan.

The JGTC would first venture abroad with its first oversea race at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia and after another successive year, the Malaysian race would become a regular championship fixture. After GT-A's abortive attempt at hosting a street race in Shanghai, the series would also venture into the United States with an exhibition race to be run with the D1 Grand Prix exhibition event in the Los Angeles area-California Speedway in Fontana, held during the week before Christmas in December 2004, which was not shown to be a success, since then no exhibition event was held until in 2010 season, which will be held in Fuji Speedway.

Super GT[edit]

2009 Lexus Petronas Team TOM's SC 430 GT500 champion.

After years of successive rules changes, at the same time, the JGTC planned holding one more race outside of Japan, in China (Shanghai), in addition to Malaysia (Sepang). However, holding the series in more than three countries violates from the definition of the "national championship" of FIA. Therefore, the series needed to be authorized directly by FIA and was not able to be named Japanese Championship because the series had to be parted from Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), the Authority Sport Nationale (ASN) of Japan.

On December 10, 2004, while the series had been mainly focused on Japanese domestic teams, sponsors and fans, with an ever-rising international fan following and TV coverage shown all over the world it was announced that JGTC would now be called Super GT with the goals of "challenge to the world", "challenge from the world", and "challenge to entertainment".

Races[edit]

Races are held as part of a yearly series. Races take place on well known Japanese race tracks like Twin Ring Motegi, Fuji Speedway, and Suzuka Circuit. The series was expanded to its first international venue in Malaysia (2000), and an exhibition race in the Los Angeles area (2004) at the Auto Club Speedway Automobile Competition Course (a day-to-night race) and infield courses. The Malaysian leg of the series, held at Sepang International Circuit was made an official race from 2002 and counted in the points. For the 2011 & 2012 Malaysian leg, the official organizer is JP Performance Motorsports Sdn. Bhd. (JPM). The baton was passed on to JPM to carry the Super GT tradition in Malaysia with hopes of producing an even more electrifying event.

Races were planned for both Zhuhai International Circuit in 2004 and Shanghai International Circuit in 2005, but both events failed to materialize.

Races are held as a single long endurance race of 300 km or greater such as 1000km Suzuka event. Through in season 2011, most of the race changes into sprints of 250 km due to the aftermath of 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

On 15 December 2011, a deal has been agreed between GT-A and Woo Myung Holdings to host a Super GT race at the Korea International Circuit in Korea in 2013.[4]

On 12 August 2013, GT-A signed a contract with Buriram United International Circuit to host a race at Buriram, Thailand in 2014.[5]

The cars[edit]

The cars are divided into two groups; GT500 and GT300 (cars with no more than 500 and 300 horsepower (374 and 224 kW), respectively). These power outputs are capped via the use of intake restrictors although some heavier cars are given allowances to run larger restrictors to maintain parity.

As is the traditional case for sportscar racing, both classes participate in one race with both classes running at the same time, and points are awarded separately for each group.

GT500[edit]

The top class in Super GT, GT500, is dominated by the Big 3 Japanese automakers; Honda (HSV-010 GT), Nissan (GT-R), and Toyota (SC 430) with some privateer teams running European cars such as Aston Martin DB9, Ferrari 550-GTS, Lamborghini Murciélago and formerly the Diablo or McLaren F1 GTR. Lexus has considered replacing the SC430 with their LFA to match their competitors, however they cancelled and continue their use of the older model.

2005 Yellow Hat Supra (JZA80).

Regulations in GT500 are considerably looser than most GT classifications, and teams are free to change engines with other models made by the manufacturer, change the alignment of the engine, or add forced-induction systems to models which do not normally have it, however from 2010 onwards all GT500 cars run V8 engines displacing 3.4 liters. The chassis may also be heavily modified, with lightweight tube-frame "clips" being allowed in front of and behind the main cockpit, although the car must overall look similar to its road-going variant. These regulations result in cars which are possibly the fastest GT racing cars in the world. The rationale for this was to allow manufacturers to field competitive cars without having to spend large amounts of money for homologation versions of the race car's road car counterparts (although some companies, notably Honda and Nissan, have still developed homologation specials).

In comparison to other grand tourer series, GT500 cars are generally quicker compared to similar FIA GT1 cars, in part due to the more liberal aerodynamic regulations present in Super GT. A FIA GT1 Maserati MC12 briefly entered the series, participating in a pre-season test, but was unable to match the cornering speeds of the existing Super GT competitors. The only car to successfully run in both specifications was the McLaren F1 GTR which won races in the past in both categories.

In 2010 the GT association announced they will start to investigate the possibility to unite their GT500 regulations with the DTM regulations. In October 2012 a cooperation deal was signed in Tokyo. The agreement regarding the use of the "New DTM" regulations by Japan's Super GT begins in 2014 and runs – for the time being – for four years.[6]

In 2012, Super GT500 cars based on 4-door sedans were allowed, but were never used. The sedans remained in the GT300 class.

Electronic aids such as ABS, Traction Control and Stability Control are not allowed even if fitted to the road going variant, and ceramic brakes are prohibited. There are also restrictions regarding placement and size of aerodynamic aids such as wings and spoilers. From 2010 onwards canards fitted to the front sides in the front bumper are prohibited. The choice of tires is also varied with Bridgestone, Yokohama, Dunlop, Kumho, Michelin and Hankook (new for 2006) available to teams.

Make 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Nissan Skyline Fairlady Z GT-R
300ZX
Toyota Supra RC F[7]
SC 430
Honda NSX HSV-010 GT NSX-GT
McLaren F1 GTR F1 GTR F1 GTR
Porsche 911 GT2
Lamborghini Diablo
Murcielago
Ferrari F40 550 GTS
BMW M3
Dodge Viper
Mirage GT1
Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
Vemac 350R 408R
Aston Martin DBR9

GT300[edit]

2005 ARTA Garaiya.

Few works teams participate in GT300, so the field tends to be much more varied in terms of types of cars entered. The big Japanese car makers also participate in this class, as well as more exotic cars from the likes of ASL, Mosler and Vemac (Lotus tuner). Since 2006, European-style GT cars have chosen to concentrate in this series. Starting from 2010 season, cars which mainly participates in FIA GT3 also entered the series with minor modifications.

2006 Privée Zurich Shiden (MC/RT-16).

Along with the standard GT cars, the Shiden (MC/RT-16), a Mooncraft/Riley Daytona Prototype car reviving the original 1977 Mooncraft Shiden 77 (紫電77)[8] also exists in GT300 class since 2006, getting good results (losing the title to RX-7 with tied points but fewer wins in 2006, and won the title in 2007). Until early 2000s when FWD cars were being permitted to be converted to RWD configuration, many of these such as Mitsubishi FTO and Toyota Corolla Levin AE101 competed in its original configuration, and did not win any championships. Cars with rear wheel drive tend to dominate the series until 2008, when an All Wheel Drive Subaru Impreza developed by Cusco won in Sepang.

GT300 cars are much more regulated than their GT500 counterparts, and much more closely resemble road-going versions. Chassis clips and realignments are not allowed (except the latter in the case of front-wheel drive cars), which results in a much more affordable racing experience for privateers. Canards are not allowed in GT300, even if stock. While engine outputs and modifications are at a lower level than the GT500 cars, the GT300 cars still post competitive times and races are very competitive.

Make Car Category Serviced year Note
ASL ASL Garaiya JAF-GT 2005, 2007-2012
Aston Martin Aston Martin V8 Vantage FIA GT2 2010–2012 Served till Round 1, 2012
Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 FIA GT3 2012–present
Audi Audi R8 FIA GT3 2012–present
BMW BMW Z4 M Coupé JAF-GT 2008–2009
BMW Z4 GT3 FIA GT3 2011–present
Chevrolet Chevrolet Corvette C6 FIA GT2 2005, 2008
Chevrolet Corvette Z06-R FIA GT3 2011–present
Ferrari Ferrari 360 Modena JAF-GT 2005–2009
Ferrari F430 JAF-GT
FIA GT2
2007–2009
2009–2012
Ferrari 458 Italia FIA GT2
FIA GT3
2011(GT2)
2012–2013 Rd.3(GT3)
Ford Ford GT FIA GT2 2006
Honda Honda NSX JAF-GT 2005
Honda CR-Z JAF-GT 2012-present
Lamborghini Lamborghini Murciélago JAF-GT 2005–2009
Lamborghini Gallardo JAF-GT
FIA GT3
2007–2012(JAF-GT)
2012–present(FIA GT3)
Lexus Lexus IS 350 JAF-GT 2008–2012
Lotus Lotus Exige JAF-GT 2005 As spot participant at the Malaysian Round
Mazda Mazda RX-7 JAF-GT 2005–2010
McLaren McLaren MP4-12C FIA GT3 2013–present
Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG FIA GT3 2012–present
Mooncraft Mooncraft Shiden JAF-GT 2006–2012
Mosler Mosler MT900 JAF-GT 2005–2007, 2010–2011 As spot participant in 2009 and 2012
Nissan Nissan 350Z JAF-GT 2005–2010
Nissan GT-R GT3 FIA GT3 2012–present
Porsche Porsche 911 GT3 FIA GT2
FIA GT3
JAF-GT
2005–2011(GT2/JAF-GT)
2010–present(GT3)
Porsche Boxster JAF-GT 2005–2010
Porsche 968 JAF-GT 2005
Subaru Subaru Impreza WRX STi JAF-GT 2005–2008
Subaru Legacy JAF-GT 2009–2011
Subaru BRZ JAF-GT 2012–present
Toyota Toyota MR-S JAF-GT 2005–2008
Toyota Celica JAF-GT 2005–2008
Toyota Corolla Axio JAF-GT 2009–2011
Toyota Prius JAF-GT 2012–present
Vemac Vemac RD JAF-GT 2005–2012

Parity[edit]

Super GT is fairly unique in its open and blunt statement that it is committed to providing exciting racing first, at the expense of runaway investment by works teams. Cars are therefore very heavily tampered with by the governing body. At the start of the season, each car is fitted with an air intake restrictor to limit power to the stated class maxima, thus restricting excessive development to make a more powerful engine. Pitstops and driver changes during the race are done within mandatory windows, to prevent tactics from dominating a race. (In 2004, during the Fontana exhibition race, a few teams were penalised after the race ended when race officials, a mix of officials from both the host country and Japanese ASN's, ACCUS/FIA (which the sanctioning organisation, SCCA, is a member) and the JAF, discovered their pit stop came one lap before the mandatory window had opened.) All regulations and adjustments to the regulations are publicly announced, in contrast to many other better-known racing promotions.

Success ballast[edit]

Perhaps the best-known handicap system in use in the Super GT is the 'success ballast' system, called "weight handicap"[9] where weight penalties are assigned depending on a car's performance during the race weekend. While this system is also used in other series like the FIA GT and the BTCC, who pioneered the system, the Super GT's version of the system is notable in that weight penalties are meted out more aggressively. While other series mete out penalties based on final position at the end of the race, Super GT also adds ballast based on qualifying position and individual lap times, and even in specific modifications (with the penalty on fastest lap in final lifted in 2007). In the 2007 season (GT500), the Takata NSX team achieved a record-breaking 5 pole positions in the first 7 races, but as such a system exists, they only won one race among them. Such regulation also keeps teams from the championship before the final race: only two GT500 teams (ARTA in 2007 and MOLA in 2012) have managed to clinch a driver's Championship prior the final race in the series' history.

In 2009, the handicap system was changed in the final two races to combat sandbagging, discouraging a team from intentionally finishing poorly in qualifying or the race, as well as intentionally being slower in the race during the run to the end of the season. During the final two races, the ballast will initially be halved in the penultimate race, and then lifted altogether in final race for all teams that participated in every round. Teams missing only one round receive halved-ballast in the final race instead.

The drivers[edit]

Like the series, Super GT drivers are very popular in Japan with a huge international fan base. One of these drivers who has gained international appeal is Keiichi Tsuchiya who raced for the Taisan and ARTA teams before transferring to a managerial role upon his retirement in 2004. Other drivers who were famously associated with the series and still have active involvement through team ownership are Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Aguri Suzuki, Kunimitsu Takahashi with the latter being President of the GT Association, who runs the series. The series also attracts drivers who see the series as a stepping stone to the Formula One championship (almost always parallel with their involvement with Formula Nippon) including Ralf Schumacher or Pedro de la Rosa, and drivers who are no longer in F1 but want to continue their career, most famously Érik Comas, who was the series' most successful driver until he stepped down from his position as a number one driver.

With very few professional GT300 drivers, many of them have a fan base for their car, but very few of them have a fan base as a driver, particularly Nobuteru Taniguchi (formerly driving the Wedsport/Bandoh Racing Project Celica and Direxiv but now with RE Amemiya) who is also well known as a D1GP competitor and Manabu Orido (formerly driving the Denso SARD Supra and the Eclipse Advan Supra for the GT500 class, and the WedSport/Bandoh Racing Project IS350 which won the 2009 GT300 championship.) who is a D1GP judge turned competitor and currently driving the RIRE Lamborghini Gallardo. The other well-known driver in the category who is well known within Japan, is the TV presenter and singer Hiromi Kozono, who currently drives a Jim Gainer Ferrari 360 and Masahiko Kondo, also a pop star, actor and racer turned team owner who competes in the GT500 category. The only current foreign driver in the GT300 class is ex-Formula 3000 driver Marco Apicella. Another popular GT300 driver is Tetsuya Yamano, who runs his own driving school in Japan and has been a winner in his class for 3 successive years at the Malaysian round. As of 2007, he is driving for Cusco. Previous GT300 drivers include professional British driver Adam Wilcox who raced in the series from 2001 to 2003.

Controversies[edit]

1998 JGTC Fuji incident[edit]

Japanese driver Tetsuya Ota is notable for surviving a fiery multi-car pileup he was involved in during a JGTC race at Fuji Speedway on May 3, 1998. The accident was initially caused by an oversaturated track. Tetsuya then hydroplaned and left the track which put him directly into an already crashed Porsche. At the time of the accident, the Ferrari Tetsuya was driving had a full cell of fuel which was ignited by the impact. Ota was severely injured due to third-degree burns on a good percentage of his body which may have been prevented if JGTC, at the time, had sufficient emergency response. Ota filed a lawsuit against the racing club plus organizers for negligence and won the sum of ¥90 million (US$800,000).

Champions[edit]

Season Category Drivers' Championship Teams' Championship
Driver(s) Car Team Car
All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC)
1993 GT Japan Masahiko Kageyama Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 not awarded
1994 GT1 Japan Masahiko Kageyama Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 Calsonic Hoshino Racing Nissan Skyline GT-R R32
GT2 Japan Sakae Obata Porsche 964 Carrera RS Kegani Racing Porsche 964 Carrera RS
1995 GT1 Japan Masahiko Kageyama Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 Calsonic Hoshino Racing Nissan Skyline GT-R R33
GT2 Japan Kaoru Hoshino
Japan Yoshimi Ishibashi
Nissan Skyline GTS-R Calsonic Impul Nissan Skyline GTS-R
1996 GT500 Australia David Brabham
Denmark John Nielsen
McLaren F1 GTR Team Lark McLaren F1 GTR
GT300 Japan Keiichi Suzuki
Japan Morio Nitta
Porsche Carrera RSR Team Taisan Jr. Porsche 964 Carrera RSR
1997 GT500 Spain Pedro de la Rosa
Germany Michael Krumm
Toyota Supra Toyota Castrol Team TOM'S Toyota Supra
GT300 Japan Manabu Orido
Japan Hideo Fukuyama
Nissan Silvia S14 RS-R Racing Team with Bandoh Nissan Silvia S14
1998 GT500 France Érik Comas
Japan Masami Kageyama
Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 Pennzoil NISMO Nissan Skyline GT-R R33
GT300 Japan Keiichi Suzuki
Japan Shingo Tachi
Toyota MR2 Team Taisan Jr. with Tsuchiya Toyota MR2
1999 GT500 France Érik Comas Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 Pennzoil NISMO Nissan Skyline GT-R R34
GT300 Japan Morio Nitta Toyota MR2 Momocorse Racing with Tsuchiya Toyota MR2
2000 GT500 Japan Ryo Michigami Honda NSX Castrol Dome Mugen Project Honda NSX
GT300 Japan Hideo Fukuyama Porsche 996 GT3R Team Taisan Advan Porsche 996 GT3R
2001 GT500 Japan Hironori Takeuchi
Japan Yuji Tachikawa
Toyota Supra Nismo Hiroto/Xanavi Nissan Skyline GT-R R34
GT300 Japan Nobuyuki Oyagi
Japan Takayuki Aoki
Nissan Silvia S15 Team Taisan Advan Porsche 911 GT3R
2002 GT500 Japan Juichi Wakisaka
Japan Akira Iida
Toyota Supra Esso Ultraflo Team LeMans Toyota Supra
GT300 Japan Morio Nitta
Japan Shinichi Takagi
Toyota MR-S Team Taisan Advan Porsche 911 GT3R
2003 GT500 Japan Satoshi Motoyama
Germany Michael Krumm
Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 Xanavi Nismo Nissan Skyline GT-R R34
GT300 Japan Mitsuhiro Kinoshita
Japan Masataka Yanagida
Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 Team Taisan Advan Chrysler Viper GTS-R
Porsche 911 GT3R
2004 GT500 Japan Satoshi Motoyama
United Kingdom Richard Lyons
Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 Nismo Xanavi/Motul Pitwork Nissan Fairlady Z Z33
GT300 Japan Tetsuya Yamano
Japan Hiroyuki Yagi
Honda NSX M-TEC Honda NSX
Super GT
2005 GT500 Japan Yuji Tachikawa
Japan Toranosuke Takagi
Toyota Supra Nismo Xanavi/Motul Pitwork Nissan Fairlady Z Z33
GT300 Japan Kota Sasaki
Japan Tetsuya Yamano
Toyota MR-S Team Reckless Toyota MR-S
2006 GT500 Japan Juichi Wakisaka
Germany André Lotterer
Lexus SC 430 Open Interface Toyota Team TOM'S Lexus SC 430
GT300 Japan Tetsuya Yamano
Japan Hiroyuki Iiri
Mazda RX-7 RE Amemiya Racing Asparadrink Mazda RX-7 FD3S
2007 GT500 Japan Daisuke Ito
Republic of Ireland Ralph Firman
Honda NSX Autobacs Racing Team Aguri Honda NSX
GT300 Japan Kazuya Oshima
Japan Hiroaki Ishiura
Toyota MR-S Cars Tokai Dream 28
Privée Kenzo Asset
Mooncraft/Riley Shiden MC/RT-16.
2008 GT500 Japan Satoshi Motoyama
France Benoît Tréluyer
Nissan GT-R Petronas Toyota Team TOM'S Lexus SC 430
GT300 Japan Kazuki Hoshino
Japan Hironobu Yasuda
Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 MOLA Nissan Fairlady Z Z33
2009 GT500 Japan Juichi Wakisaka
Germany André Lotterer
Lexus SC 430 Lexus Team Petronas TOM'S Lexus SC 430
GT300 Japan Manabu Orido
Japan Tatsuya Kataoka
Lexus IS 350 Racing Project Bandoh Lexus IS 350
2010 GT500 Japan Takashi Kogure
France Loïc Duval
Honda HSV-010 GT Weider Honda Racing Honda HSV-010 GT
GT300 Japan Kazuki Hoshino
Japan Masataka Yanagida
Nissan Fairlady Z Z33 Hasemi Motorsport Nissan Fairlady Z Z33
2011 GT500 Italy Ronnie Quintarelli
Japan Masataka Yanagida
Nissan GT-R MOLA Nissan GT-R
GT300 Japan Nobuteru Taniguchi
Japan Taku Bamba
BMW Z4 GT3 GSR&Studie with TeamUKYO BMW Z4 GT3
2012 GT500 Italy Ronnie Quintarelli
Japan Masataka Yanagida
Nissan GT-R MOLA Nissan GT-R
GT300 Japan Kyosuke Mineo
Japan Naoki Yokomizo
Porsche 911 GT3-R Team Taisan ENDLESS Porsche 911 GT3-R
2013 GT500 Japan Kohei Hirate
Japan Yuji Tachikawa
Lexus SC430 Lexus Team Zent Cerumo Lexus SC430
GT300 Japan Hideki Mutoh
Japan Yuhki Nakayama
Honda CR-Z Team Mugen Honda CR-Z

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]