Association, Inc.

Issue No. 2, 2008

Japan’s Super GT Series

by Peter Nunn

In the world of motor racing, Formula One is top of the tree.  In Japan, however, there’s another race series that’s also hugely popular, one with a big reputation for serving up terrific racing.  Welcome to Japan’s Super GT Series.

Honda NSX

Honda NSX

Super GT is Japan’s big national formula for sports cars—Honda NSXs, Nissan GT-Rs, Lexus SC430s and more—battling it out in front of big, festival-like crowds.

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R

Go to a Super GT race (or watch it on TV) and you soon discover why it has the fans coming back for more.  Super GT racing is hard and close-fought.  With some 40 cars involved and lots of strategy and overtaking, this is no boring procession.

Lexus SC430

Lexus SC430

That the dramatic looking Super GT cars have evolved up from showroom models is another big part of its appeal.  Fans can easily relate to the Nissans, Hondas and Lexus’ they see on the track even though beneath the skin, of course, the cars have been massively modified for extra speed, grip and stability.

For the major manufacturers which provide support (in the top GT 500 class, this means Nissan, Honda and Toyota), Super GT appeals because it’s an ultra-competitive, relatively low-cost, high-profile series with good rules stability and a long history. 

As a way of building up the brand and potentially increasing sales, Super GT thus has a lot going for it from the marketing point of view.

In the lower GT300 class, Mazda and Subaru are represented by privateer teams but the fact that you will also see Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the track from time to time, plus other exotica, is another part of the Super GT draw.

So, as a close-fought, hi-tech ‘silhouette’ series, Super GT is similar in a way to Germany’s successful DTM and England’s BTCC championships.

The organisers also go the extra mile to even out the grid and try to stop one car or one team from just running away with the championship.  So if you win, you then carry a weight ballast in the car for the next race.  Win again and you carry even moreweight.

This has been one of the stories of the 2008 season with the arrival of Nissan’s hugely anticipated GT-R super coupe in Super GT.  The GT-R was very successful early on, so by mid-season, it was heavily handicapped with weight ballast to “slow” it down.

This kind of equivalency formula may not please everybody, but there’s no doubt that it makes for closer racing and a strong show, although the team with the extra weight to carry is obviously none too happy about it.

With nine rounds in the 2008 Championship, including one race in Malaysia, Japan’s Super GT series continues to offer up some of the best racing round.