Honda SUPER GT stars share their favourite NSX-GT memories

By Jamie Klein

Honda SUPER GT stars share their favourite NSX-GT memories

After 10 seasons in service, the Honda NSX-GT has bowed out of SUPER GT competition. With two GT500 titles, 21 victories and 28 pole positions, the NSX-GT leaves behind a legacy of success that ensures it will live long in the memory of fans.

We spoke to a selection of the top drivers in the Honda SUPER GT stable to hear about their favourite memories with the NSX-GT.

Naoki Yamamoto (Team Kunimitsu)

It is difficult to decide on one race, but the two races where I was able to win the championship are the most significant. The first was the final race of 2018 at Motegi, where I won the championship with Jenson Button. It is particularly memorable as it was my first championship win and the first for Honda since the current [Class One] regulations were introduced.

The second was the final round at Fuji in 2020, where I won the championship with Tadasuke Makino, and it was one of those races where we managed to pull out the maximum performance of the NSX-GT. Fuji, with its long straights, is not the best circuit for NSX-GT, but thanks to its strong downforce and cornering speed, we were able to turn the tables on our opponents. The NSX-GT and I both truly gave it our all in a race where we ran out of fuel right after taking the chequered flag.

My experience with the NSX-GT started with NSX CONCEPT-GT, and I have worked together with the development team in the struggle since then. Winning these two titles is something that I will always have on my CV and I am very grateful to the NSX-GT for helping me to improve my ability and quality as a racing driver.

Tomoki Nojiri (ARTA)

My first win [at Fuji in 2017] was in an NSX, so of course I remember that one, but the last round of the following year, when Yamamoto and ‘JB’ [Button] won the title, me and Takuya Izawa took pole position and won the race. We didn’t win the championship that time, but it was very satisfying to show that day we had a stronger performance than the guys who became champions. That really stands out in my mind. 

When we went into the final round, we were still just about in the title fight, so I  was half-frustrated at losing the title, but it felt like we just didn’t have luck on our side. We had some non-scores, and without those the final outcome might have been different. It was a tough year, so to finish it like that was really satisfying. It was my first year with Izawa-san and he helped me develop as a driver a lot. Then again, I felt if I was just a bit more complete as a driver… it made me realise how tough it is to win the title. But it also made me aware of just how much I had grown over the course of the season.

We finished third in the rankings that year, but in 2021 we were second. We won at Autopolis mainly because we were really light on success weight, so there was pressure to win, but then we won again at Motegi and gave ourselves a chance at the title. We were a bit lucky that Team Impul ran out of fuel, but that’s a race that really sticks in the memory. It felt like another race where we did a perfect job, and that even though we were lucky we were rewarded for pushing all the way to the end and not giving up. 

I’ve been driving the NSX a long time, and I personally have some regrets that we couldn’t win the title with it, but I’ll always treasure my memories with the car.

Takuya Izawa (Nakajima Racing)

I’ve had four race wins with the second-generation NSX, so It’s hard to choose between them! But the first one in 2015, where me and Naoki Yamamoto won at Sugo, is the best memory. At this time, we were still using the hybrid system and we were struggling a lot with the performance compared to the other manufacturers. It was the only race that Honda won that season, so for me that makes it more special.

The 2018 finale at Motegi was also a good race, but Yamamoto and Jenson [Button] won the championship in that race, so nobody really came to celebrate with us after the race, everybody went to Naoki-san and Jenson, which is a little bit sad! It was a perfect race for me and Nojiri, but this is not such a good memory for me!

Koudai Tsukakoshi (Real Racing)

In the 2018 curtain raiser at Okayama, when the car grew a ‘horn’... for both me and Real Racing that was the first win in a long win in a long time, so it sticks out in my memory for that reason. Plus the race itself, we had a good battle with the #100 [Team Kunimitsu] car, and towards the end… a part from another car got stuck in our front grill and the car looked a bit strange! But that was the first win for a long time, and after that the team and I started to win races much more regularly, so that makes it special.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to win the title with the NSX, which is a shame, and it’s frustrating this year we weren’t able to stay in the fight until the final race. But I’m really looking forward to seeing the performance of the Civic. It’s a very different car to the NSX and there are a lot of Civic fans and owners out there, so I hope as well as being a winning car it will attract many fans to come to the circuit.

Tadasuke Makino (Team Kunimitsu)

I made my debut with the NSX back in 2016 with Drago Corse [as a one-off] in Thailand, which is a good memory for me. So I would have to say that race, and then the last race in 2020 when we won the championship. Before I went to Thailand, I was feeling really nervous, because I had never driven the GT500 car before. I had only done the Suzuka 1000km in a GT300 car, but in the end the race went really well, me and Hideki Mutoh finished second. It was a great experience for me. The following season I went to Europe, but I really wanted to stay at Drago Corse as they were a really strong team.

At Fuji in 2020, I was watching Naoki-san from the pits, so my situation was basically the same as the fans! I was just praying for Team Kunimitsu… I was crying, maybe too much, and Naoki-san ran out of fuel just after the finish… of course it’s a good memory. And it ended up being the last title for the NSX-GT, which is also something special.

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