2024 Autobacs SUPER GT

Round 1 Okayama International Circuit [GT300 class]

The 30th-anniversary edition of the Japan’s top touring car series implemented new regulations regarding the number of tyre sets and qualifying methods. Despite these changes, the battle for victory between the two Bridgestone-powered cars that had taken the front row in qualifying was a close one, with Yui Tsutsumi and Hibiki Taira taking their first victory in the series. Other Bridgestone users also finished their first race with points for all their cars. 

Bridgestone tyre users occupy front row of starting grid

During the qualifying, the GT300 class was divided into Groups A and B, and Q1 and Q2 qualifying rounds took place as before. However, the top eight cars from each group in Q1 qualified for Group 1 (Upper) in Q2 to determine the top grid, while those ranked 9th and lower in each Q1 group formed Group 2 (Lower 17) and determined the grid for 17th and lower. If a machine in the Lower group outperformed the Upper group's time, the system replaced only those between 13th and 20th place. The Tsutsumi-Taira group topped Group B in Q1, and the Gamo-Shinohara group that followed them fought a close battle in Q2, with Gamo-Shinohara obtaining the pole position. The front row was occupied by Bridgestone tyre users, and other Bridgestone users were placed 8th in Upper. 


muta Racing GR86 GT comes from behind and holds on to win

No-change tyre strategy helps cars achieve results in the race

The race began on a sunny summer day with a clear start. The top group remained unaffected by the multiple crashes that occurred in the GT500 class. The starting order remained as it was when the safety car run was lifted, and the positions changed up to 6th place. Behind them, the Yoshida-Nonaka group and the Odaka-Nakamura group each moved up one place in the early stages. After clearing the minimum number of laps for each driver, these two cars made a pit stop and changed drivers, using a strategy of not changing tyres, which allowed them to quickly move up the rankings. The Tsutsumi-Taira group, which was running second, also did not change tyres. 

The leading group of Gamo-Shinohara and several other cars had yet to make their pit stops. Of the following groups that had already made their pit stops, the top group was Tsutsumi-Taira, and second place was Yoshida-Nonaka. In 4th place was the Kodaka-Nakamura group. Gamo-Shinohara pitted after 49 laps as the race entered its final stages. After changing four tyres, he returned to the race in 3rd place behind Yoshida-Nonaka. The Gamo-Shinohara pair returned to 2nd place 10 laps after returning. In the final stages, the Gamo-Shinohara pair, who had the advantage in tyre performance, were slowly closing in on the leading Tsutsumi-Taira pair, but were unable to pass. The Yoshida-Nonaka pair had a difficult time and were unable to maintain their 3rd place, finishing in 4th place without being able to stand on the podium. Odaka-Nakamura finished the first race in 5th place. 



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"In 2023, I finished 2nd three times. I didn't win, so I'm happy that I won from the beginning this year. The team told me, 'We're going with a no-exchange strategy.' I was tired of thinking about how I could run faster as my times were dropping, and I managed to get to the finish line without being caught up by car No. 65. This year, I made sure not to miss anything." 

Yui Tsutsumi, Winning Driver (muta Racing GR86 GT/Bridgestone)

"Last season there were many 2nd places, so I'm happy to get my first win at the beginning of the season and get off to a really good start. Our strategy was not to change tyres, so from the start, I was able to keep my tyres intact and was able to make a pit stop just as the cars that were running a lap behind came out, which was a great result. The next race was at Fuji last year. I want to win somehow at Fuji, which was a frustrating experience." 

Hibiki Taira, Winning driver (muta Racing GR86 GT/Bridgestone)

"Similar to the GT500 class, we are supplying tyres based on the development concept to date. The GT300 class has different types of vehicles, so it is suitable for any type of vehicle. We are supplying a wider range of compatible tyres. With the exception of car No. 65, we implemented a no-replacement strategy and were able to improve our rankings. Congratulations to car No. 88 for the victory.”

Takahiko Yamamoto, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Manager