The producer’s press launch arrived final Friday, simply days after Fujinami was noticed behind the wheel of the #24 Kondo Racing Z on the opening day of producer testing at Suzuka.
Nevertheless, when the discharge was dropped, Fujinami’s title was nowhere to be discovered, whereas Kohei Hirati was listed alongside Daiki Sasaki because the second driver of the No. 24 automobile.
In and of itself, Hirate’s preservation of his management wasn’t a lot of a shock. The sensation over the winter in line with these within the Nissan camp was that the driving force line-ups had been sturdy and the two-car works with Staff NISMO, Staff Empul and Kondo doubtless all characteristic unchanged pairs.
It was regardless of the marque’s annual check shootout at Fuji Speedway in December that Fujinami took a stroll on the wheel of one of many two Nismo Zs, together with fellow youths Riki Okusa, Teppei Natori and Atsushi Miyake.
As two-time GT300 champion in Kondo racing alongside Joao Paulo de Oliveira, 27-year-old Fujinami was all the time the primary to step up, even when the youthful Okusa and Natori are additionally stated to have impressed at their first style. GT500 machines.
And at one level, it appeared like that was certainly the plan: Fujinami was prepared to affix Sasaki within the No. 24 Kondo GT500, and he was already noticed (and photographed) by keen spectators who braved the frigid late-January climate at Suzuka to see the primary check group for this yr.
Nissan was anticipated to announce its driver lineups forward of the check, simply because it did final yr, however Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays handed with none official phrase earlier than. Affirmation arrived on Friday that Hirate will hold his seat in any case.
Moreover, Fujinami was not even listed as a part of the Nissan GT300 lineup, as de Oliveira’s teammate within the No. 56 automobile was listed for the upcoming marketing campaign as “TBA”.
With no phrase from Nissan on Fujinami’s situation, followers had been baffled by the scenario, particularly given the occasions in Suzuka that had taken place simply days earlier.
Motorsport.com has since found there was a late change of coronary heart inside Nissan, with the unique plan to advertise Fujinami and shift Hirate into the reserve and improvement driver function for 2023 understood to have modified arms late Thursday evening.
Nissan was clearly not assured sufficient in signing Fujinami to announce him upfront of the Suzuka check. This has led some to take a position that his day behind the wheel of Kondo’s No. 24 was some sort of ultimate analysis check.
However this idea appears broad – in any case, Nissan already has loads of knowledge on Fujinami from three check drive appearances since 2020, and a bitterly chilly day in January when there is a lengthy check listing to finish is hardly the right time. To guage drivers.
It appears sure that the choice was made (however not communicated) to advertise Fujinami at Hirate’s expense, which is then reversed. However why the change of coronary heart?
Actual particulars are scarce, however the U-turn seems to be associated to studies that Fujinami has run into bother with one of many drivers racing for the ‘KF Motorsport’ group within the Fuji-based Vita Race collection, which is operating on the undercard of the Inter Proto collection.
Nismo didn’t need to make clear the choice when contacted by Motorsport.com for remark, and in addition declined to elaborate on Fujinami’s present scenario inside Nissan.
Which means that it’s at the moment unclear if Fujinami will retain his seat alongside de Oliveira within the GT300 class, which was to be handed over to former UpGarage Honda man Natori as a part of the plan to advertise Fujinami and Hirate.
Nissan has one other announcement deliberate for February nineteenth, so it is totally doable by then we’ll know if Fujinami might be given a reprieve within the GT300 class or if the model might be dropped totally.
If it had been the latter, it might be a tragic method to finish a fruitful collaboration that yielded two GT300 titles in addition to two Tremendous Taikyu prime division crowns.