Six in one go in Japan
On Saturday, the three DTM vehicles and the three Honda, Lexus and Nissan works cars made for a highly acclaimed joint appearance in the support programme of the SUPER GT season finale at the Twin Ring Motegi. At first, Loïc Duval, Augusto Farfus and Maro Engel entertained the crowds with several demonstration laps and then, the guests from Europe were joined by a Honda NSX-GT, a Lexus LC500 and a GT-R. “It was an incredible moment,” said ITR boss Gerhard Berger. “A few weeks ago, the SUPER GT racers visited our season finale and now, we are witnessing another highlight in Japan.”
The SUPER GT cars were driven by Tomoki Nojiri (Honda), former Formula One ace Heikki Kovalainen (Lexus) and Ronnie Quintarelli (NISMO Nissan). Kovalainen and Quintarelli, who already represented SUPER GT during the DTM season finale, in mid-October at Hockenheim, both still have the chance of securing the drivers’ title in the final race on Sunday.
Former F1 ace Gerhard Berger, who is highly appreciated by the Japanese motor-racing enthusiasts, and the DTM drivers were integrated into the official SUPER GT autographing session, with the European delegation signing hundreds of autographs. “The enthusiasm of the Japanese fans is just amazing,” said Augusto Farfus who already contested several SUPER GT races for BMW in the GT300 category.
During a joint press conference with Masaaki Bandoh, Director of the SUPER GT umbrella organisation GTA, Berger called the appearance in the country of the rising sun as “Strong symbol for the friendship and cooperation between DTM and SUPER GT. We are standing close together. DTM’s decision to also race with four-cylinder turbo engines from 2019 represents a crucial step on the way to realising our joint goal: that both series will contest their races with identical technical regulations.“
Bandoh also sees good preconditions for a full cooperation. “We have reached another important phase on our way to joint races of SUPER GT and DTM. It has been a long way to get this far and I have got the impression that we finally created the requirements for joint races.” Bandoh optimistically added: “I am sure that the distance between Europe and Japan has been decreased.”
Berger thanked Bandoh for the discussions, “That proved to be difficult at times. But they always were very constructive and we made major progress in the recent weeks.” On the Motegi weekend, GTA and ITR will hold further discussions regarding the joint technical regulations for 2019 and beyond.