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Honda aims to avoid repeat of Fuji tyre woes at Suzuka

Honda is hoping to avoid a repeat of the tyre issues that held it back at Fuji as SUPER GT returns to Suzuka for this weekend’s 450km race.

#8 ARTA NSX-GT

Masahide Kamio

The NSX-GT contingent struggled in this month's fourth round of the season against rival GT500 manufacturers Toyota and Nissan, failing to get a car on the podium for the first time in the 2022 campaign.

ARTA pair Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi were the top Honda finishers in fifth, a massive 42 seconds down on the winning TOM’S Toyota GR Supra of Sacha Fenestraz and Ritomo Miyata.

The other two Bridgestone-shod NSXs of Team Kunimitsu and Real Racing finished eighth and 10th respectively, the latter car ending up a lap down.

  • Stream every qualifying session and race of the 2022 SUPER GT season only on Motorsport.tv.

The Fuji race took place in cooler-than-expected conditions, and Honda SUPER GT project leader Masahiro Saiki said this may have contributed to the NSX struggling to match the quickest of the GR Supras and Nissan Zs  - which he hopes won’t be replicated this weekend at Suzuka.

“Qualifying was in line with our expectations, but in the race we couldn’t get the tyres to work properly,” said Saiki. “I think if we could have worked the tyres better, we could have finished higher up.

“That said, we still scored important points and we didn’t lose too much ground to the championship leaders, so we want to improve the precision of our car for the second half of the season.

“Fuji and Suzuka have different track characteristics, so the race may unfold differently. At Fuji, considering the change in laptimes [over the course of a stint], I think we had little choice but to go with a strategy of dividing the race into three equal stints.

“At Suzuka I think there’s a higher chance for a safety car or a full-course yellow, so some teams may choose to leave their pitstops until then.”

At the halfway stage of the season, Kunimitsu pair Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino are Honda’s best-placed crew in the drivers’ standings in fifth place, eight points behind championship leaders Fenestraz and Miyata.

 

Nojiri and Fukuzumi are a further two points back, while Real duo Nobuharu Matsushita and Koudai Tsukakoshi are 12 away from the leaders.

On Honda’s Fuji struggles, the brand's head of vehicle development Tomohiro Onishi added: “There were some cases where the performance [between the Bridgestone cars] was quite different even though they were on the same tyres, so it appears there are some differences in the way the cars use their tyres.

“We want to make use of what we learned at Fuji for the next race, but it’s not as simple as things turning around just because we are going to Suzuka."

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