Introduction

Before you start reading this guide I feel it is important to know that I am by no means an expert on Super GT – and I would guess by the fact you’re reading this guide, neither are you.

I have been watching the odd Super GT every year for the last few years, including every race in the 2017 season. The information in this guide is based off what I have picked up from watching those races, hours spent trawling the internet and using bad translations programs, and a close following of the technical side of the sport.

Anyone who has tried to follow this series will know that the official website is not welcoming or easy to use for non-Japanese speakers, and there are very few outlets that cover it in the English language. Because of that, it is probably the hardest series to follow, in an area of the sport is quite hard to follow anyway, even when the races don’t take place at Silly O’clock in the morning, literally halfway around the world. But you know what? When you do watch the races, it is one of the best most exciting championships in the world. And part of me suspects they don’t advertise their series in case someone realises how good and bonkers it is, and tells them to stop.

And so with that lack of information in mind, and Dave relaunching theRACINGLINE.net under the attitude of “let’s do it ourselves”, here we are.

Drivers

Teams must use a minimum of 2 drivers per race, and one driver is not allowed to drive more than 2/3rds of the race.

Cars

There are two classes in Super GT – GT500 and GT300.

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GT500

These are the big boys and girls, bespoke racing cars designed to win races, with bodies reminiscent of production car cousins.

All the cars share a common carbon-fibre chassis, and it is the same chassis that is used by DTM, however outside of the spec-rear wing and a few other parts, aero development is quite a lot freer. Because of that, you will notice lots of winglets and louvres over the lower part of the body, as well as a (spec) large diffuser and a flat floor to increase the underbody downforce, which helps when it comes to reducing dirty aero wake and improving overtaking. The aero on the lower parts of the body can be developed as much as you want in the offseason, but the spec is frozen before the first race. The upper portions of the body must match that of the production cars the race car is based on.

Where these cars differ from the DTM is in the engines. Whereas DTM uses frozen spec V8s pushing out around 500bhp, GT500 uses 2 litre turbo inline 4 engines, pushing out in excess of 650bhp. These cars are seriously quick, comparing the lap times with that of the WEC who also run at Fuji, the GT500 cars would certainly be giving LMP2 a run for its money (how great would that be to see at Le Mans?). Engine development is open (a sticking point in combined rule talks with DTM), however, you can only introduce a limited number of different spec engines throughout the year.

In order to promote close racing and keep costs down the cars use a fuel flow restrictor, similar to F1. They do differ though, as in F1 the restriction is measured to ensure the flow rate does not exceed the amount specified in the rules, but in Super GT it is a true restrictor in that it won’t allow the fuel flow to exceed the specified flow rate of 95kg/hr.

GT500 cars can be identified through their white headlights, windscreen strip and number backgrounds.

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GT300

Now I know I said there are two classes – and that is true – but GT300 has 2 different sets of rules that the cars can conform to, and one of those sets has a subset – bear with me and hopefully all will become clear.

Manufacturer teams are banned, with the class being for privateers and tuning companies so the costs don’t get out of control.

The first of these rulesets is FIA GT3 – yes, the same rules as found in several series around the world, so I won’t go into these in any more detail.

The other set of rules is the JAF-GT300. These cars are based on production cars but have relatively free development in terms of bodywork, driven wheels, engine placement etc. The cars don’t even have to use the production car engine, just any engine from that manufacturer’s range, which is how we end up with a Subaru BRZ with an Impreza Rally engine, and a Toyota Prius powered by an LMP1 engine!

The subset within JAF-GT300 is known as the mother chassis rules. This is a spec chassis developed by series organiser GTA in conjunction with well-known race car manufacturer Dome, which can be purchased along with a very competitive Nissan engine, and then you can put on a body of your choosing – effectively a silhouette class. The chassis can have the engine mounted at either end as well, so we have a Toyota GT86 and a Lotus Evora running in this class, both with this chassis

GT300 cars can be identified through their yellow headlights, windscreen strip and number backgrounds.

Fuel

Despite some pretty famous fuel brands being sponsors of teams in the series, fuel development is banned. You can’t even bring your own fuel – all fuel used in the races must be purchased from the fuel pumps provided at the race circuit.

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Tyres

One of my favourite things about Super GT is that it is one of the few series in the world with a full-fat tyre war. It’s not even just between two manufacturers, with Dunlop, Bridgestone, Yokohama and Michelin all getting involved. Teams are free to use whichever tyres they feel will suit them best, so you may see the same cars on track with different tyres.

Success Ballast

As Super GT is all about providing close and exciting races, so to ensure no one runs away with it they employ a system of success ballast. On a basic level it’s fairly easy to follow, as your ballast is 2x the amount of points you have – so if you have 20pts, you will carry 40kg of success ballast. All cars carrying success ballast will have a sticker on them displaying how much ballast they are carrying.

It is slightly different for round 7, as you only carry 1kg for every point (i.e. 20pts = 20kg), and then for round 8 everyone goes on a crash diet as all success ballast is removed.

In GT500 any car will never carry more than 50kg of ballast – if your success ballast is over this then the fuel flow restrictor will be adjusted down instead.

Qualifying

Qualifying operates in a knockout format. In GT300 the top 14 advance from the first session to the second session, and the top 8 in GT500 do the same.

The second session sets the grid for the race (simple!). If a driver takes part in the first session they may not take part in the second session – so it’s important that both drivers are quick!

Pitstops

Any combination of tyres can be changed at the pit stops, it’s not necessary to change all 4. This combined with the fact that only 5 crew members can be used in a pit stop means that the pit stops can play an important strategic role in the races.

Points System

Much like many FIA championships worldwide, the top 10 drivers and teams in each class receive points, with an additional point for the drivers on pole. Teams also earn ‘bonus’ points depending on if they are on the lead lap or not.

Position Points Points (> 700 km race)
1 20 25
2 15 18
3 11 13
4 8 10
5 6 8
6 5 6
7 4 5
8 3 4
9 2 3
10 1 2
GT500 GT300
Lead Lap 3 3
+ 1 Lap 2 3
+ 2 Laps 1 1
+ 3 Laps 0 0

 

Calendar

The 2018 season will take place over 8 rounds at 7 tracks in 2 countries. The races vary in length from 250km to 500miles (the Englishman in me absolutely loves the mixing of units) and are generally held once a month starting in April and wrapping everything up in November.

Round Track Date Distance
1 Okayama (JP) 7-8 April 300 km
2 Fuji (JP) 3-4 May 500 km
3 Suzuka (JP) 19-20 May 300 km
4 Buriram (TH) 30 June – 1 July 300 km
5 Fuji (JP) 4-5 August 500 miles
6 Sujo (JP) 15-16 September 300 km
7 Autopolis (JP) 20-21 October 300 km
8 Motegi (JP) 10-11 November 250 km

And before anyone points it out, no those dates for round 2 are not incorrect – the race event is held on a Thursday/Friday.

So as you can see, this Super GT for Dummies by a Dummy Guide is out just in time for the beginning of the season next weekend – and you can follow that race right here on tRL TV.