Autopolis Super GT: Honda sweeps front row in qualifying
Honda locked out the front row at Autopolis for the second year running, with Real Racing leading last year’s pole-sitting ARTA team in Saturday’s SUPER GT qualifying session.
Koudai Tsukakoshi underlined the chart-topping pace shown by Real Racing in both practice and Q1, clocking a time of 1m33.262s in the #17 NSX-GT he shares with Bertrand Baguette.
That was enough to secure the outfit’s first pole position since last year’s Okayama season opener, and the first for Honda in 2019.
ARTA made it a one-two finish for Honda, although Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa ended up over seventh tenths off the pace with a time of 1m33.967s.
Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough and Mitsunori Takaboshi qualified third in the Kondo Racing Nissan, which was upgraded to the Yokohama-based manufacturer’s Spec 2 engine this weekend.
The #36 TOM’S Lexus duo of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Kazuki Nakajima were fourth-fastest in qualifying, ahead of the Sard Lexus of Heikki Kovalainen and Yuichi Nakayama.
The B-Max Nissan pairing of Kohei Hirate and Frederic Makowiecki were next up in sixth, while Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa, who sit second in the drivers’ standings, qualified seventh in the #37 TOM’S Lexus.
The Q2 field was propped up by Fuji 500km winners Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachkiawa, the Cerumo Lexus squad runners set to line up eighth on the grid.
The championship-leading LeMans Lexus of Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima qualified a distant 14th, saddled with ballast equivalent to 100kg - including a Stage 3 fuel flow restrictor.
Reigning champions Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto also missed out on a Q2 berth for the second consecutive race, the Kunimitsu Honda duo qualifying 1.4s off the pace in 12th.
- This Sunday's SUPER GT race at Autopolis will be streamed live and for free on Motorsport.tv, with coverage starting at 5:30am GMT.
Takamitsu Matsui and Kimiya Sato secured Toyota squad Tsuchiya Engineering’s third pole of 2019 in the GT300 category, as SUPER GT-exclusive mother chassis cars locked out the front row of the grid.
Matsui lapped the Autopolis circuit in 1m44.423s in the #25 Toyota 86 MC, edging out the #52 Saitama Toyopet Toyota Mark X MC of Hiroki Yoshida and Shigekazu Wakisaka by less than a tenth of a second.
The factory-supported #7 D’station Aston Martin Vantage GT3 qualified third, with ex-Nissan GT500 stalwart Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Tomonobu Fujii behind the wheel of the highest-placed GT3 car on the grid.
Championship leaders Nirei Fukuzumi and Shinichi Takagi set the seventh-fastest time in the #55 ARTA Honda NSX GT3, two places ahead of their nearest rivals, Sacha Fenestraz and Kazuki Hiramine in the #56 Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R GT3.
GT500 qualifying results:
|1||17||Koudai Tsukakoshi |
|2||8||Tomoki Nojiri |
|3||24||Mitsunori Takaboshi |
|Nissan||1'35.176 || |
|4||36||Kazuki Nakajima |
|Lexus||1'35.060 || |
|5||39||Heikki Kovalainen |
|6||3||Kohei Hirate |
|Nissan||1'35.600 || |
|7||37||Ryo Hirakawa |
|8||38||Yuji Tachikawa |
|9||19||Yuji Kunimoto |
|10||23||Tsugio Matsuda |
|11||16||Hideki Mutoh |
|Honda||1'35.843 || |
|12||1||Naoki Yamamoto |
|13||64||Narain Karthikeyan |
|14||6||Kazuya Oshima |
|15||12||Daiki Sasaki |
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