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Nissan suggests NDDP moniker no longer suited to #3 drivers

Nissan suggests NDDP moniker no longer suited to #3 drivers

Chiyo and Takaboshi were paired up at NDDP (short for the Nissan Driver Development Programme from which they both graduated) for the 2022 season, which coincided with NISMO taking over the running of the #3 car from B-Max Racing.

The duo fought for the title in their first season together, only missing out in the Motegi finale to Impul Nissan pair Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine, and were again in title contention this season until the last race of the season.

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Chiyo and Takaboshi ultimately ended up second in the standings again, one place ahead of #23 NISMO pair Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda.

Reflecting on the performance of the #3 crew, Nissan SUPER GT executive director Motohiru Matsumura admitted that it makes little sense having two experienced drivers like Chiyo and Takaboshi in a car carrying the NDDP moniker going forward.

However, he stopped shy of confirming a change in the line-up for the 2024 season.

“Both Chiyo and Takaboshi have grown up very well, and are performing very stably,” Matsumura told immediately prior to the Motegi finale.

“Unfortunately last year a crash and penalty cost them the championship, but also they were ranked first [heading into the final race]. 

“That’s why the name NDDP [is problematic]… they are no longer development drivers, so the team shouldn’t have the name ‘development’ in, but we still have this.

“In future, they should step up and then young talent should be invited to this car. But we have to make this step up gradually. 

“Sacrificing the opportunity to win races is not our intention.”

Nissan’s defending champions Baguette and Hiramine ended up fifth in the standings after a tough season that yielded no wins and only a single trip to the podium.

Qualifying proved to be the #1 squad’s biggest problem, with the Impul duo only making it out of Q1 once the entire season and recording the worst average grid position in the GT500 field.

Asked to reflect on Impul’s difficult title defence, Matsumura opined that Baguette and Hiramine could take some lessons from Chiyo and Takaboshi, who took a commanding pole in the final race of the season at Motegi.

“My understanding last year was that the performance between Impul and the #3 car was not so much,” said Matsumura. “But they had some luck with the tail-to-win at Suzuka, and this year they didn’t have this kind of luck.

“In the races themselves they have been strong, but they need to make a step in qualifying, I think, on how to use the tyre performance for one lap and matching to the temperature, and the warm-up.

“The #3 drivers’ level of concentration is a bit stronger, in terms of tyre warm-up and chassis set-up for qualifying. That’s the difference in qualifying.”

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