In the morning of August 16th with the Round 5 Pokka Sapporo 1000km proceeding the next day, new model cars of Lexus (Toyota), Honda, and Nissan that will be fielded in next season’s GT500 class were unveiled at Suzuka Circuit. The new cars are built based on the same chassis and aerodynamics specifications as Europe’s popular racing series, “Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft,” and, with the GRAND-AM of the USA also planning to start a racing series aligned with the same specification in the future, the initiative is expected to facilitate globalization of motorsports by allowing mutual participations and inter-series racing by racing cars from different countries.
The engines are redesigned completely for the next season. Three manufacturers independently develops, produces, and mounts on the car a 2000cc, inline 4-cylinder Turbo engine built based on a specification exclusive for Japan. The engine embraces a technological approach to contribute to the production car engine development while securing an equivalent power output as the existing 3400cc V8 engine. It is also aligned with the recent developmental trend of light-weight, fuel efficient, and down-sizing.
Some 260 media had gathered at the venue set up in the hospitality lounge of Suzuka Cirucuit, indicating the extent of interest towards the new machines of GT500 class. Also, the determinations of the three manufacturers towards the project were prominent as the executives of not only the motorsports departments but also of the business management were in attendance at the presentation.
New machines, Lexus’s “LF-CC,” Nissan’s “GT-R,” and Honda’s “NSX CONCEPT,” share the same monocoque, but each has a machine design that is clear in its own characteristics. SUPER GT cars, while sharing the same technical specification with the DTM, have various differences such as the position of fuel filler opening, air-conditioner, etc. due to the differences in the racing style as well as the environment of Japan and Asia.
Masaaki Bandoh, the Chairman of GTA, expressed his appreciation towards the three manufacturers that developed and produced the cars and the JAF, and emphasized the key objectives of the 2014 technical specification, “The regulation is a product of unprecedented method which organizing bodies and auto-makers of a racing series that has achieved success in Europe (DTM) and a Japanese racing series (SUPER GT) got together, discussed, and mutually provided knowledge and expertise. The vehicles you see here are genuine outcome of the approach.” He also pointed out that this will accelerate globalization of Japan, US, and Europe.
In addition, to preserve the craftsmanship of Japan, a monocoque made by Toray Carbon Magic Co.,Ltd will be adopted as the standardized monocoque of the SUPER GT instead of imported monocoque.
Keizo Takahashi, the head of motorsports department, Toyota Motor Corporation, commented on the based vehicle, “Our racing car is based on the ‘Lexus LF-CC’ which was introduced at the Paris Motor Show in September last year. LF-CC is a concept model of a 2-door, FR coupe, sporty entry car that is expected to join the Lexus lineup. It has achieved the environmental performance, globalization, and cost reduction in addition to the speed of traditional SUPER GT car.”
2014 Lexus GT500 car
The address was followed by Hideo Satoh, the head of motorsports department, Honda Motor Co., Ltd., explaining about the vehicle, “We will be competing with a GT500 car built based on the concept model of the new ‘NSX,’ which is planned to be launched in the market in 2015. To preserve the image of NSX, we could not compromise the mid-engine and hybrid. I would like to express my appreciation to the JAF, GTA, Toyota, and Nissan for their understanding on this subject. It was very difficult and disadvantageous to go with a mid-engine since a standardized monocoque designed for a front-engine car had to be used, but, on the other hand, it was a good challenge for our development team. For the hybrid, the system used in the CR-Z GT of GT300 class will be evolved and adopted.” He explained the unique characteristics of NSX that are different from the two rival manufacturers.
2014 Honda GT500 car
Shoichi Miyatani, the president of Nissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd. (NISMO), showed his confidence in the GT-R for next season by saying, “Nissan will continue to compete with a GT500 car built based on the ‘Nissan GT-R.’ GT-R is the flagship model that represents the technological expertise of Nissan and the latest and the best technology of the time has always been injected to the car. It was only natural to select it as the base for our GT500 car. A 2-liter, inline 4-cylinder, direct injection turbo engine will be used ahead of the DTM. A fuel flow restrictor will be used in the SUPER GT, and this is a technology to output as much power as possible with smallest amount of fuel possible, which I am confident as an effective technology for future production cars.”
2014 Nissan GT500 car
Video message from Hans-Werner Aufrecht, the president of ITR, the sanctioning body of DTM, was shown at the venue which he commented, “We finally can see the roll out of new cars. I believe that the drivers are also excited for the sporty and outstanding cars. I am confident that the fans will enjoy the thrilling race of attractive cars.” He showed his confidence in the success of new GT500 machines in his words.
Ed Bennett, the president of GRAND-AM, which will be adopting the cars of the same technical specifications from 2017, appeared in a video message, “From the North American perspective, we feel like we have the basis for a long, strong partnership with both the ITR and GTA, which holds great promise for our future.” Bennett described the announcement and the first public demonstration run as “historic,” and promised to focus on debuting new cars in the US by following this milestone in Japan.”
From left: GTA Chairman Bandoh, Toyota’s Takahashi, Honda’s Sato, and NISMO’s Miyatani.
After the presentation, a public testing session of new cars was conducted for 1 hour from 15:30 and Honda and Nissan cars made runs on the track. Lexus could not run in the session due to a problem it faced at the previous test run. Mid-summer clear sky covered Suzuka Circuit the day, as if it were to celebrate the new car announcement.
Though coming in and out of the pits repeatedly after 1 or 2 laps, the two cars were resonating the exhaust note of 2000cc, inline 4-cylinder, direct injection turbo engine. The sound got much more vibrant at the end, indicating successful progress of the development.