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Highlights Of SUPER GT In 2024, According To Representative Masaaki Bando

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TEXT: CARトップ 鈴村朋己(SUZUMURA Tomoki)  PHOTO: 増田貴広(MASUDA Takahiro)/GTA Co.,Ltd/Honda Mobilityland Corporation

  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)
  • SUPER GT for the 2024 season opens at Okayama International Circuit on April 13 (Sat.) - 14 (Sun.)

What are the highlights of this season’s SUPER GT, according to Representative Masaaki Bandoh?

This season’s SUPER GT will open at Okayama International Circuit from 13 (Sat) to 14 (Sun) April 2024, and 2024 will mark the 30th anniversary of SUPER GT. We asked Masaaki Bandoh, a representative of the GT Association, about the highlights of this season and his outlook.

Newcomers in both the GT500/GT300 classes!!

As Japan’s premier motorsport category, SUPER GT is attracting a great deal of attention not only in Japan but also from around the world, and the 2024 season has plenty to offer. The first thing to look out for is the appearance of many new machines in the GT500 and GT300 classes.

In the GT500 class, where the three manufacturers Toyota, Nissan and Honda are competing, Honda will switch from the NSX to the Civic Type R, which it raced until 2023. This will be the first time in history that a Civic Type R has competed in the SUPER GT. Nissan has also changed its base car from the ‘Fairlady Z’ to the ‘Fairlady Z Nismo’ and will take on the reigning champion, the ‘Toyota GR Supra’.

All three cars showed high performance in the official tests held at Okayama International Circuit on 16-17 March 2024 and at Fuji Speedway on 23-24 March, with the difference being marginal… However, all the cars are likely hiding their claws, and the answer to the real performance will become clear at the Okayama International Circuit, the stage for the opening round of the season.

On the other hand, in the GT300 class, where supercars from around the world are engaged in heated battles, powerful machines such as the Ferrari 296 and Aston Martin Vantage will be entered, while Ferrari and BMW will have works drivers. In addition, three teams are new to SUPER GT, so there is plenty of content here not to be missed.

SUPER GT has been focusing on sustainability in recent years

Sustainability is what SUPER GT has been focusing on in recent years. In various fields around the world, carbon-neutral initiatives are being undertaken to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. For motorsport to continue in the future, it is necessary to create entertainment while considering the global environment. Therefore, one of the initiatives that SUPER GT has been implementing since 2023 is the adoption of biomass-derived non-fossil fuel Carbon Neutral Fuel (“CNF”).

“When we thought about what we wanted to do to continue racing while reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we decided that we wanted to continue ‘sound motorsports’ in front of customers after 2030. That is why we adopted 100% CNF in the GT500 class last year. This season, after a year’s delay, the GT300 class will also use a fuel mixed with 50% CNF. In the future, we would like to adopt a fuel called ‘e-fuel’, which is made by synthesising carbon dioxide and hydrogen,” says GT Association representative Masaaki Bandoh.

Also, the number of tires (for dry use) available per event this season is set at four sets for 300 km races, five sets for 350 km races, and six sets for three-hour races, to suit the three race formats For 2019, the number of sets of dry tires allowed to be brought in was set at seven sets for the 300km race, meaning that the number of sets per car will be reduced by 35% throughout the season, or 21 sets in total. In line with this regulation change, the qualifying format was significantly revamped. We asked Representative Bando about the background to this.

“We have thought about how to use tires not only from an environmental point of view, but also for the enjoyment of the fans. This is because, with the regulations as they were up until last year, we could envisage such cases as …… not running the official practice sessions to conserve tires. That would be a shame for the fans who came to the circuit looking forward to watching the race. That’s why we decided to introduce a new qualifying format where the times from Q1 and Q2 are combined and the number of tires available is one set. We have received various opinions after the announcement, but as a promoter, the important thing is how to improve the entertainment value while considering the environment. If it doesn’t work after a year, I will propose another idea.”

Moreover, Bandoh is preparing to introduce a new system to make it easier for fans to understand the combined Q1 and Q2 qualifying system.

“To make the combined qualifying session more interesting, we are planning to introduce a system that will display real-time rankings and combined times on monitors and TV screens. We are also working with the circuits that host the event to improve the communication environment, and to create a viewing environment for Grooview Multi, which is now in its third year. It is important to communicate in a way that is easy to understand for as many people as possible, and to show and display our intentions in a way that is communicated to fans. These measures will lead to an increase in attendance, and we aim to fill the grandstands to the brim. We will continue to update them through trial and error, so please look forward to them.

Furthermore, Representative Bando believes that the kids’ walk that they conduct after the race is one of the contents that they would like to continue doing in the future.

“We started the Kids’ Walk for children under junior high school age and their parents to get more children interested. They receive fan service from drivers and coaches, and depending on the team, they can also receive original goods such as stickers and clear files for free. The children who were eligible for the Kids Walk when it first started are now over 20 years old and adults. Some of them are now married and come to watch SUPER GT with their families. I would like them to take the role of parents and bring their children to the circuit. If we can make that kind of appeal, it will make it even more worthwhile to continue the Kids’ Walk, and it’s great that SUPER GT fans can pass it on from generation to generation.”

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