Insight: SUPER GT's Tire War Under Threat
The Japanese series will need to come up with more radical ideas to sustain multiple tire manufacturers in GT500, writes Jamie Klein...
The number of top-level championships in worldwide motorsport that still feature a tire war can virtually be counted on one hand. When it comes to sports car racing, only two major holdouts remain: the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie (NLS) and SUPER GT.
However, as SUPER GT heads into its 30th anniversary season, there are serious doubts over how much longer open tire competition will remain viable.
The Japanese series is immensely proud of its tire competition, which until last season boasted a four-way battle between Bridgestone, Michelin, Yokohama and Dunlop in the top GT500 class. But Michelin dropped a bombshell relatively early in the 2023 season when it revealed it would be withdrawing at the end of the year.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Michelin’s involvement to the integrity of SUPER GT’s tire war, despite the fact since 2015 the French firm had exclusively supplied the two NISMO-run cars in the Nissan stable. Incidentally, that was the last year that a Michelin-shod car won the GT500 title. Since then, it has been a Bridgestone whitewash.
With Michelin gone, Nissan has turned to Bridgestone to supply its two factory cars. It means the Japanese brand is set to supply 12 of the 15 cars on the GT500 grid for the upcoming season, with Yokohama fielding two cars and Dunlop just one. This huge imbalance has only strengthened fears that Bridgestone will further enhance its already-dominant position.