The first day of Super GT manufacturer tests at Autopolis circuit saw all three manufacturers out on track for the first time with their 2017 GT500 challengers – including the first look at the new Honda NSX-GT, the ultimate rendition of the ultimate Japanese mid-engined supercar.
Honda’s new NSX-GT, along with the 2017 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 and Lexus LC 500 Super GT, had a trouble-free opening day of testing at the newly re-opened Autopolis circuit.
The 2017 NSX-GT features heavily revised styling, based on the road-going Honda NSX that launched in Japan this August. Like the previous NSX Concept-GT, the new NSX racer will be powered by Honda’s two-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder HR-414E engine.
Honda hopes that the 2017 NSX-GT can help to turn around the manufacturer’s relatively poor fortunes in GT500 in recent years. Since 2014, with the introduction of the current GT500 formula, Honda have won just two out of the last twenty-two races, and if they do not win a race at the Motegi GT Grand Final next month, it will be their first winless season in the top category since 1997.
A cold opening morning of testing eventually gave way to warmer temperatures in the afternoon, and saw the #093 Lexus LC 500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura/Daisuke Ito) record the fastest time of the day, with a lap time of 1:34.943 set in the afternoon session. This time is two seconds slower than the GT500 track record, a 1:32.835 set last year.
The #99 Honda NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Takuya Izawa/Koudai Tsukakoshi) set a fastest time of 1:35.663, with the #230 Nissan GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) going third-fastest with a 1:36.634. Honda and Lexus used Bridgestone tyres on their test vehicles, while Nissan uses Michelin tyres.