Team Goh’s Maserati For Super GT
The popular and super competitive Super GT Championship has existed
in splendid isolation from the European GT racing scene for many
years. Whilst the McLaren F1 GTRs shone brightly in their day, the
factory-backed Hondas, Nissans and Toyotas have dominated for almost
a decade - with Skylines, Supras and NSXs (and latterly the Fairlady
Z) providing almost a clean sweep of race wins since 1997.
That could be about to change however, as the latest
generation of European GT1 car takes another crack at the GT500
With the Ferrari 550 and Lamborghini Murcielagos
already seemingly dispatched by the Japanese cars, what hope for
the Maserati MC12 which Team Goh is bringing out to play?
The car is a
race winner already, this the chassis that took the first two race
wins for the MC12 in the FIA GT Championship of 2004.
Kazimuchi Goh is deadly serious about the effort
and is embarking on a European pre-season test programme with the
car, with 2006 driving squad Seiji Ara and Jan Magnussen, before
the season opener at Suzuka in mid March.
That’s great news for Super GT fans but bad
news for Mr Goh: “I’m really looking forward to the
Super GT season but I would have loved to race at Sebring.”
The schedule makes that impossible, but the car
might be seen in the ALMS later in the year.
“I would like to try to race at Petit Le Mans:
we have the correct bodywork that would be needed but would need
to arrange the appropriate tyres.”
So hang fire ALMS fans for a possible Team Goh entry
at PLM. For now though it’s all eyes on the Super GT crown
- and time for some answers from Mr. Goh on the programme so far,
starting with progress on pre-season testing:
car was shaken down at Adria with Andrea Bertolini and Seiji Ara.
The weather was very bad, but Bertolini told me that the Bridgestones
were giving as much grip in the wet as other tyres do in dry conditions.
Realistically in Super GT we have to run the Bridgestones to be
competitive. It is very unusual for Bridgestone to agree to testing
in Europe, but we are putting more time on them with a session at
Vallelunga this weekend, where Seiji and Jan will get together with
the car for the first time. We’ll follow that with another
test at Misano two weeks later.
it will be very difficult to see how we compare to the competition
in these early tests, there will be the chance to see how we compare
to the Mercedes CLK GTR in 1997/98, as the car was tested at Vallelunga
on Bridgestones too. It will be interesting to see how things have
It’s not as irrelevant a comparison as it
perhaps seems: the current crop of Super GT cars already laps more
quickly at Suzuka than the cream of the old school GT1 cars managed
And the time seems right to match the European cars
to the Japanese marques. As with many factory-backed efforts, the
corporate reins are tight and the Super GT organizers, despite currently
healthy grids are, no doubt, fully aware that a single pull-out
from a factory might well leave them looking at a shortage of cars
in the future. Witness the recent problems in DTM for an example
of how a seemingly healthy series can be plunged into problems astonishingly
“The organizers want us in the championship
very much,” confirms Mr. Goh. “They want to see more
different cars racing in Japan and I believe they see this entry
as a benchmark. We will see the current GT500 cars slowed down if
we are too slow. They are very serious about getting FIA spec. cars
no sign though of the suggested liaison between the Super GT and
FIA GT Championships. Instead, there’s more a move by the
Japanese series to widen the net for more potential entrants, for
what looks like becoming a more regional rather than national championship.
“There will still be differences between the
Japanese cars and the Maserati,” adds Kazumichi Goh. “While
our weight will be the same, we will have perhaps a 1mm bigger restrictor
and possibly 30 or 40 bhp more, but we’ll have less downforce
than they will. We will keep the original (long nose) bodywork for
Super GT and the organizers are also allowing us to run carbon brakes,
which will help with the weight.
“I believe though that there is a big chance
that we will see some compromise to help us to be competitive. Without
that it will be very difficult for us.”
Will Team Goh show the kind of form that we have
seen from the MC12s in Europe, or will they struggle a little to
be ultimately competitive, as the ALMS car did in 2005?
With a team
with Team Goh’s pedigree in charge though, who’s brave
enough to bet that the Big Three of Japanese racing won’t
be paying very close attention to progress over in Italy just now?