The NSX-GT contingent locked out the highest spots total in final weekend’s first official pre-season take a look at, which was additionally the primary to be held totally with SUPER GT’s new-for-2023 carbon-neutral gasoline (CNF).
Honda has persistently been quickest all through winter testing, with the ARTA Honda crew notably topping 4 out of six non-public take a look at days and setting a blistering new unofficial lap file at Suzuka earlier this month.
ARTA as soon as once more topped the occasions at Okayama on Saturday courtesy of a 1m17.827s from Nirei Fukuzumi, which stood because the quickest time of the take a look at, whereas the Impul Nissan Z that Baguette shares with Kazuki Hiramine completed up seventh total, inside half a second of the tempo.
Regardless of some solutions that the introduction of CNF throughout the board having the potential to shake up the order between the GT500 class’s three producers, Baguette feels that Honda nonetheless has an edge over the opposition.
“The rating is kind of the identical as what we had within the February take a look at [at Okayama] with regular gasoline,” Baguette informed Motorsport.com. “Honda appears to be like quick.
“I feel Honda has robust line-ups in all 4 Bridgestone automobiles. For me they go into the season as favorite. After all we’ve got the #1 on our automobile, so we needs to be there as nicely, and we don’t really feel too dangerous.
“My feeling is that Honda is a bit in entrance proper now. I don’t suppose we’re that far behind, and anyway, if we’re behind at this observe I received’t be frightened.
“Honda is according to all 4 Bridgestone automobiles, which reveals you one thing. However we’re pleased with our feeling.”
Baguette reiterated that he is not overly involved about Nissan’s efficiency at Okayama, a venue which has tended to be not consultant of the remainder of the season lately.
However he careworn the significance of displaying nicely at Fuji and Suzuka, that are each internet hosting a pair of 450km races this season, as he and Hiramine purpose to ship back-to-back titles for Staff Impul.
“At Fuji we have been robust in winter testing, however at Suzuka we solely did actually cold-weather assessments and when it’s like this Honda is unbeatable with their downforce,” mentioned Baguette. “Will probably be fascinating to see how it’s in April with the [Bridgestone] tyre take a look at with hotter climate.
“I received’t be frightened if we’re not that aggressive at Okayama, however we have to be there at each Fuji and Suzuka.”
Quintarelli bullish on Michelin long-run tempo
Nissan’s pair of works NISMO automobiles on their Michelin tyres ended up eighth and ninth within the mixed timesheets, with the #23 automobile of Ronnie Quintarelli marginally the sooner of the pair.
Regardless of a spot of greater than seven tenths of a second to the pace-setting Honda, Quintarelli was feeling assured concerning the long-run tempo he and team-mate Tsugio Matsuda displayed on Sunday afternoon.
“Over a single lap, it appears we’re lacking one thing, to Honda and to Yokohama [the #19 Racing Project Bandoh Toyota and Kondo Racing Nissan] as nicely,” Quintarelli informed Motorsport.com.
“We’re lacking a few tenths. However anyway, we’ve got by no means been so robust on a single lap at Okayama.
“On the long term, we’re higher than prior to now. Normally we’re fighting graining and pick-up, however this time we improved. If we’ve got related temperatures for the opening spherical, we can be even stronger, so it’s fairly promising.
“Now we simply must do some superb tuning and attempt to enhance for qualifying, as a result of the competitors is large.”