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Testing report

Toyota tops final Suzuka test day, big crash for Nakajima Honda

Toyota squad Racing Project Bandoh topped the timesheets on the final day of SUPER GT manufacturer testing at Suzuka on Friday, as the Nakajima Racing Honda suffered a major crash at 130R.

#19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra

For the first time this year, a group test day was topped by a manufacturer other than Honda, as Sena Sakaguchi set the pace aboard the Yokohama-shod #19 Toyota GR Supra with a best time of 1m43.206s in the two-hour morning session.

That was almost three tenths faster than Sakaguchi had managed on Thursday, but still six tenths away from the blistering new unofficial lap record of 1m42.630s set by ARTA Honda man Toshiki Oyu.

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TOM'S driver Sho Tsuboi made it a Toyota 1-2 with a time 0.247s down on Sakaguchi, while best of the Hondas this time was the second Mugen-run ARTA car, the #16 machine of Nirei Fukuzumi.

ARTA's lead car of Tomoki Nojiri and Oyu only logged nine laps in the morning, none of them at a competitive pace, but recovered to top the three-hour afternoon session with a time of 1m43.643s, good enough for fourth overall.

The session was brought to a slightly premature halt by a huge accident involving the #64 Nakajima Racing Honda of GT500 rookie Kakunoshin Ota at the high-speed 130R left-hander.

Pictures of the accident showed that the car had been on its roof, but Ota appeared to escape the wreck unharmed.

 

Also in the wars was the Real Racing Honda, which suffered an off at the Esses in the morning session while Nobuharu Matsushita was at the wheel. The car was repaired and sent out with a plain carbon bonnet for the afternoon session, but ended up at the bottom of the order.

Nissan's top representative was again the #24 Kondo Racing car in seventh place, behind the SARD and Rookie Racing Toyotas.

It still remains unclear which cars were using the new-for-2023 carbon-neutral fuel for this test: regular gasoline is thought to be a second a lap faster, meaning the laptimes must be treated with a degree of caution.

The cars that took part in this week's test - the entire GT500 field except the two NISMO-run Nissans - are now set to appear in this weekend's Suzuka Fan Thanks Day festival, although it appears almost certain that the Nakajima Racing Honda will not be able to participate after its crash.

Teams will then head to Okayama for the first of two official pre-season tests on March 11-12.

UPDATE: On Friday evening, Nakajima released a statement saying that Ota had undergone examination in hospital, but was cleared of any injury. He will undergo further assessment on Saturday.

Ota wrote on his Twitter feed: "The biggest impact of my life. My body hurts, but my mind is crystal clear. I'll stay in hospital overnight and have a more detailed examination tomorrow. Thanks to all those that contacted me."

Suzuka SUPER GT testing times:

Pos. No. Team/Car Drivers Morning Afternoon
1 19 Racing Project Bandoh/Toyota

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Sena Sakaguchi

1'43.206 1'45.348
2 36 TOM'S/Toyota

Japan Sho Tsuboi

Japan Ritomo Miyata

1'43.453 1'44.048
3 16 ARTA/Honda

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

Japan Hiroki Otsu

1'43.505 1'43.970
4 8 ARTA/Honda

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Toshiki Oyu

1'56.850 1'43.643
5 39 SARD/Toyota

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

1'43.673 1'44.087
6 14 Rookie Racing/Toyota

Japan Kazuya Oshima

1'43.983 1'44.787
7 24 Kondo Racing/Nissan

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Japan Kohei Hirate

1'44.233 1'43.992
8 100 Kunimitsu/Honda

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

1'44.048 1'44.282
9 64 Nakajima Racing/Honda

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Kakunoshin Ota

1'44.274 1'44.052
10 1 Impul/Nissan

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

1'44.508 1'44.183
11 38 Cerumo/Toyota

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

1'44.507 1'44.373
12 37 TOM'S/Toyota

France Giuliano Alesi

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

1'44.857 1'44.999
13 17 Real Racing/Honda

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Japan Nobuharu Matsushita

1'45.050 1'44.895

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