Italian driver Ronnie Quintarelli and his teammate Tsugio Matsuda concluded their 2023 campaign in the Super GT series with a second-place finish at Motegi. The race was won by Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata in the #36 TOM’S Toyota. This result secured Quintarelli and Matsuda the third-place position overall in the championship standings, just one place behind their NISMO counterparts Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi.
The #23 crew faced a setback earlier in the season when Matsuda suffered a major crash at the Suzuka round in June. This incident not only affected their performance but also led to a penalty for taking a fresh chassis at the subsequent race in Fuji. However, they managed to bounce back and achieve a second-place finish upon their return to Suzuka in August. Unfortunately, they were later disqualified for a skid block violation. Despite these challenges, Quintarelli expressed satisfaction with their overall standing in the championship, considering the various setbacks they encountered throughout the season.
Quintarelli admitted that the team had struggled with speed, especially during qualifying sessions. However, he was pleased with their podium finish in the final race at Motegi, emphasizing the significance of this achievement after several years of absence from the podium at that venue. While they couldn’t match the speed of the #3 NDDP Nissan, Quintarelli found solace in ending the season on a high note with a podium finish.
Regarding Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine, the defending champions concluded their title defense in fourth place at Motegi. Starting from the 10th position on the grid, they faced difficulties throughout the season due to poor qualifying performances. Baguette acknowledged that without a strong qualifying position, even possessing strong race pace would not suffice to challenge for the championship. He highlighted the importance of finding a solution to their qualifying issues in the upcoming season.
Baguette also mentioned the potential advantage for Impul if their NISMO counterparts switch to Bridgestone tires, as currently, Impul is the only car on Bridgestone tires in the series. He believes that having more teams on the same tire brand could boost their competitiveness. However, he acknowledged that it ultimately depended on the decisions made by the teams.
In conclusion, the 2023 Super GT season was filled with ups and downs for Quintarelli, Matsuda, Baguette, and Hiramine. While the #23 crew managed to secure a podium finish in the final race and secure third place in the championship standing, Baguette and Hiramine struggled with poor qualifying performances which impacted their chances of defending their title. Both teams look forward to addressing their respective challenges and improving their performance in the upcoming season.