The Italian driver described he and teammate Tsugio Matsuda’s second-place finish in a wet-dry race as “one of the most disappointing of my career” after an extra pitstop dropped the #23 Nissan behind the #3 car of Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi .
Quintarelli scorched into the lead when conditions were at their worst, having initially pitted for wet tires on lap 19 of 84, as the superiority of the Michelin wet tires shone through.
The two Michelin-shod Nissan Zs of Quintarelli and Chiyo were well established in the top two positions when the rain began to ease in the middle phase of the race.
But the race swung in favor of the #3 car when Quintarelli unexpectedly pitted to hand over to Matsuda on lap 44, just before the track had dried out enough for slicks to be a viable option, meaning Matsuda had to pit again 10 laps later slick tires.
Chiyo on the other hand stayed out until lap 55 to give the #3 car to Takaboshi, who resumed comfortably ahead of Matsuda and went on to win by nine seconds.
Quintarelli explained the #23 crew had spotted an opportunity to pit under a potential full-course yellow, which didn’t ultimately eventuate, but couldn’t hide his disappointment at losing a strong chance of a first win of the 2022 season.
“It’s difficult to accept the strategy,” he told Motorsport.com. “The team saw the potential for an FCY when a GT300 car spun, but the track was drying up… even if you could gain something with the FCY [it wouldn’t have made up for having to pit again].
“I understand it’s not easy to manage everything, but the ‘normal’ strategy which the sister car did [was the correct one].
“We had nothing to lose by staying out. We could have stayed out until the maximum drive time [lap 56]and then decide whether or not to use slicks.
“But the team was focused on gaining time with the FCY. Sometimes you can focus too much on one thing and you lose sight of the big picture.
“This second place is one of the most disappointing of my career. I want to go home and forget about it. When you get this kind of opportunity, you have to win, which is why I am so disappointed. I don’t race to finish second.”
Chiyo on the other hand admitted that he had wanted to come in for a second stop earlier, thanking the #3 side of the NISMO garage for its decision to keep him out until the track was ready for slicks.
“When the amount of rain increased, we were struggling a bit with the pace,” admitted Chiyo. “I didn’t want to lose more ground to the #23 and I requested we come in to change tyres, but [team boss Jiro] Shimada-san and the engineers in the pits stayed cool and made the decision to stay out.
“In the end the rain stopped and the track dried out, so that was the right decision.”
#3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Despite the bitter disappointment of losing victory, Quintarelli was keen to highlight the strong performance of the Michelin wet tyre, which allowed him and Chiyo to slice their way through the order as the Bridgestone-shod cars in particular struggled.
“I am happy we finally got to try the wet Michelin tires, I was hoping before the weekend that it would rain!” he quipped. “The performance in the wet was very impressive.
“But I was more surprised how much the other cars struggled. The difference was incredible. On the back straight the engineer told me I was nine seconds behind the car in front, but then by the last corner I could see them!”