Nissan has completed the 2017 Super GT championship in the best possible way with an incredible pole to chequered flag victory at the final round of the series at Twin Ring Motegi.
The victory elevated Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda to second place in the championship – the duo finishing the year only three points away from claiming their third championship as a duo.
The win was the 19th for Matsuda, giving him the record for the most wins ever in the history of Super GT. Quintarelli’s 13th victory also gives him the record for the most wins by a non-Japanese driver.
Quintarelli put the pair in contention for the win by a record-breaking lap in qualifying to earn the pole. However, contact from behind on the warm-up lap damaged the rear of the No. 23 Nissan GT-R.
Despite this, the Italian leaped into the lead off the start and opened up a gap at the front of the field. He handed over to Matsuda on lap 24 and the Japanese ace continued the stunning pace through to the chequered flag on lap 53 to record a victory by more than six seconds.
The pair’s championship hopes were dashed by points leaders Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa finishing second. Had the duo finished one further spot behind in third – Quintarelli and Matsuda would have been champions.
“I was a little worried with that contact at the start of the race, but there was no problem with the balance of the car and I was able to run perfectly from then on,” Quintarelli said.
“I’m glad we were able to win this race but to be honest, I also wanted to win the championship and so it’s a little disappointing that we missed out on it by such a small margin.
“Still, considering the difficult struggles we had at the beginning of the season, I think it’s amazing that we could come this far. Thank you so much to the fans for their continued support.”
Nissan completed two more top tens with Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo finishing sixth and Jann Mardenborough and Hironobu Yasuda seventh. The final Nissan GT-R of Daiki Sasaki / JP de Oliveira qualified fifth fastest but contact and a penalty pushed them down to 12th in the race.