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Suzuka Super GT: Nakajima Honda gets first pole since 2012

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Suzuka Super GT: Nakajima Honda gets first pole since 2012
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The Nakajima Racing Honda squad secured its first SUPER GT pole position in eight years in scorching temperatures at Suzuka.

With track temperatures hovering around the 50-degree mark, the ballast-free Dunlop-shod #64 Honda NSX-GT shared by Takuya Izawa and Hiroki Otsu was in a class of one all day.

Izawa convincingly topped practice by some half a second in the morning, and GT500 rookie Otsu continued that good work in Q1 with a time 0.340s clear of the field.

In the eight-car Q2 shootout, Izawa pumped in a lap of 1m46.239s to secure Nakajima Racing and Dunlop's first GT500 pole since the 2012 Golden Week Fuji race.

Second-fastest in Q1, the #23 NISMO Nissan GT-R was also the closest challenger in Q2 as Ronnie Quintarelli came up 0.460s shy of Izawa's benchmark to secure a spot on the front row.

The two Cerumo Toyota GR Supras will make up the second row, with Yuji Tachikawa in the #38 car beating the sister #14 machine of Sho Tsuboi by just over a tenth.

Behind the two Bridgestone-equipped cars was the Yokohama-shod Mugen Honda, with Hideki Mutoh ensuring all four tyre manufacturers made it in the top five.

Sixth-fastest was the Bandoh GR Supra of Yuji Kunimoto, also running Yokohamas, while the Real Racing and Team Kunimitsu Hondas, driven by Bertrand Baguette and Tadasuke Makino respectively, completed the Q2 order.

SUPER GT returnee Heikki Kovalainen was denied the chance to drive in qualifying as his teammate in the SARD Toyota, Yuichi Nakayama, was narrowly eliminated in Q1. The pair will start ninth ahead of the #3 NDDP/B-Max Racing Nissan.

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The two TOM'S Supras, carrying the biggest success handicaps in the field at 58kg and 60kg respectively, qualified 11th and 12th, with Nick Cassidy in the #37 car leading stablemate Sacha Fenestraz in the championship-leading #36 machine.

More unexpected was that the ARTA Honda, carrying only 8kg of ballast, struggled to a lowly 14th place in the hands of Nirei Fukuzumi.

GT300: Toyota Prius on pole as de Oliveira loses best lap

The #31 apr Toyota GR Sport Prius PHV secured pole position in the GT300 class, but only after Kondo Racing Nissan man Joao Paulo de Oliveira had his best lap deleted.

#31 TOYOTA GR SPORTS PRIUS PHV apr GT

#31 TOYOTA GR SPORTS PRIUS PHV apr GT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Ex-Nissan GT500 driver de Oliveira set the fastest time in Q2 of 1m58.053s, only to have it taken away for exceeding track limits exiting Spoon corner in the #56 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 he shares with Kiyoto Fujinami.

That promoted the ballast-free Prius of Koki Saga and Yuhki Nakayama to pole, with Saga setting the class benchmark of 1m58.189s.

Toshiki Oyu was promoted to second in the ARTA Honda NSX GT3 he shares with Shinichi Takagi, while de Oliveira’s best valid laptime in the Kondo Nissan - which is carrying 42kg of ballast - proved enough for third.

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The points-leading Saitama Toyopet Toyota GR Supra GT300 shrugged off its 75kg handicap to secure fifth on the grid, behind the Max Racing Lexus RC F GT3.

Cars Tokai Dream28’s Lotus Evora MC, which is carrying 60kg of ballast after its win last time out, could only qualify down in 11th place.

GT500 qualifying results:

Pos. No. Team/Car Drivers Q1 Q2
1 64 Nakajima Honda

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Hiroki Otsu

1m46.160s 1m46.239s
2 23

NISMO Nissan

 

Italy Ronnie Quintarelli

Japan Tsugio Matsuda

1m46.500s 1m46.699s
3 38 Cerumo Toyota

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

1m46.631s 1m46.769s
4 14 Cerumo Toyota

Japan Kazuya Oshima

Japan Sho Tsuboi

1m47.383s 1m46.899s
5 16 Mugen Honda

Japan Hideki Mutoh

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

1m46.992s 1m47.147s
6 19 Bandoh Toyota

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Ritomo Miyata

1m46.931s 1m47.417s
7 17 Real Honda

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

1m46.764s 1m47.612s
8 100 Kunimitsu Honda

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

1m47.488s 1m48.122s
9 39 SARD Toyota

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

Finland Heikki Kovalainen

1m47.577s  
10 3 NDDP/B-Max Nissan

Japan Kohei Hirate

Japan Katsumasa Chiyo

1m47.631s  
11 37 TOM'S Toyota

New Zealand Nick Cassidy

Japan Ryo Hirakawa

1m47.648s  
12 36 TOM'S Toyota

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

France Sacha Fenestraz

1m47.768s  
13 24 Kondo Nissan

United Kingdom Jann Mardenborough

Japan Mitsunori Takaboshi

1m48.052s  
14 8 ARTA Honda

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

1m48.106s  
15 12 Impul Nissan

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

1m48.668s  
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About this article

Series Super GT
Event Suzuka
Author Jamie Klein