The DTM and Super GT teams are preparing for one of the spectacles of the motorsport year, as both touring car grids come together for the second time at Fuji Speedway, Japan.
In October the two series combined for the first time at the DTM season finale at Hockenheim. Six Super GT cars – two from Honda, Lexus and Nissan – joined the 18 Audi, BMW, and Aston Martin DTM regulars for the two races at the iconic German Grand Prix venue.
This weekend five manufacturers, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan and Lexus will come together for two races in a format similar to DTM. A qualifying session on both Saturday and Sunday morning will be followed by a 55-minute-plus-one-lap races, with mandatory pitstops for a tyre change. Like the Hockenheim event, DTM tyre supplier Hankook will provide the rubber for all cars.
This weekend will, however, differ from a typical DTM two-race format in three ways.
Firstly both races will begin from a rolling-start, which is the typical starting procedure for the Japanese series.
Secondly, the Drag Reduction System (DRS) and Push-to-Pass (P2P) overtaking aids used in DTM are not permitted, despite their use at Hockenheim across both the DTM and Super GT cars.
The Fuji circuit lends itself to overtaking thanks to the 1.475km start-finish straight, over half the length of the Norisring street circuit.
Finally this weekend will see teams have to adjust to a reduced pit crew. The DTM squads are used to nine mechanics being in action during pitstops, however only seven are allowed this weekend.
With 22 cars on the grid come an opportunity for a star-studded line up of drivers. Audi take four cars to Fuji, DTM regulars Team Phoenix’s Loïc Duval, 2013 DTM champion and Abt Sportsline driver Mike Rockenfeller, and reigning series champion Team Rosberg’s René Rast, will be joined by Team Sport Japan’s Benoît Tréluyer. The three-time Le Mans winner with Audi, raced in the Super GT series between 2001 and 2011.
BMW will field three cars which will all be operated by the Team RBM outfit. Only one DTM regular will drive for the German marque, two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann, who will be joined by the legendary Alex Zanardi, who competed at the 2018 Misano DTM weekend with an altered BMW M4 DTM, and three-time Le Mans runner up and Daytona 24h winner Kamui Kobayashi.