The qualifying for the 42nd International Pokka Sapporo 1000km race, Round 5 of the 2013 Autobacs Super GT series, was held at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807 km) in Mie Pref. on August 17. In the GT500 class qualifying, the Motul Autech GT-R Mola driven by Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quintarelli won the GT500 class pole position. In the GT300 class, the Subaru BRZ R&D Sport driven by Tetsuya Yamano, Kota Sasaki and Takuto Iguchi took the class pole.
From this season, the qualifying is being run in a new two-session “knock-out” format (Q1 and Q2) with the cars recording slowest times in Q1 being knocked out of the final qualifying in Q2. In the GT500 qualifying, the top eight cars of the 15 entries proceed to Q2.
On this day, the mid-summer skies over the Suzuka Circuit were fair and the air temperature rose to 36 degrees C.
In the GT500 class’ 15-minute Q1 session, the Weider Modulo HSV-010 driven by Frederic Makowiecki made a one-shot attack just before the end of the session and recorded the fastest time with a 1’52.694 to qualify for Q2. The second fastest qualifier was the Eneos Susitna SC430 (Yuji Kunimoto). Third fastest in the Q1 session was another Lexus car, the ZENT Cerumo SC430 (Kohei Hirate). These were followed by the Motul Autech GT-R (Masataka Yanagida) in 4th position.
In the battle for pole position in the 12-minute Q2 session, the first two to begin aggressive timed laps were Naoki Yamamoto in the Weider Modulo HSV-010 and Ronnie Quintarelli in the Motul Autech GT-R. First Quintarelli in the GT-R ran a 1’56.175 to take the lead. Then Yamamoto in HSV-010 bettered that with a lap of 1’52.359. Next, Quintarelli came back with a time of 1’52.157 to better his rival.
Naturally, Yamamoto made another attempt to take back the lead but failed to better his own best time, coming in with a 1’52.916. The holder of the record for most GT500 class pole positions, Yuji Tachikawa in the ZENT Cerumo SC430 also failed to beat the times of Quintarelli and Yamamoto before the session time ran out.
With these results, the Motul Autech GT-R won its second pole position of the season following the one in Round 2. The 2011 and 2012 champions, Yanagida and Quintarelli also won the pole position here at Suzuka last year and the year before, and although they drive for a different team this year they have now won the Suzuka pole for the third year in a row. For the Nissan GT-R this is the fourth pole position of the season and its 20th overall (excluding Skyline GT-R).
In the GT300 class, Kota Sasaki on the Subaru BRZ R&D Sport recorded his second consecutive course record for the last two races. While being the only one to run a lap in the 2’01 range, he brought his team its fourth class pole position of the season. Because the race distance for this event is a long 1,000 km, a third driver is allowed to join the race along with the teams’ two regular drivers. For this reason, Takuto Iguchi is scheduled to drive the Subaru BRZ R&D Sport along with Yamano and Sasaki.
Qualifying 2nd and 3rd in the GT300 class were S Road NDDP GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) and the Exe Aston Martin (Hideto Yasuoka).
Pole position winner comments
No. 23 Motul Autech GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: “After very bad qualifying results at Sepang and Sugo, I wanted to really work on our speed as much as possible for Suzuka. In the morning’s official practice the car was in good condition and it felt like it would be easy to get good times. In Q1 [Masataka] Yanagida-san ran a good time and that gave me confidence in the car. I was concentrating on getting the fastest time in my second timed lap, and I ran all-out to get it. Being able to start from the front of the grid gives us a lot more choices in terms of race strategy, and since we were able to get in some long lap sessions, I am confident about tomorrow’s race.”
No. 61 Subaru BRZ R&D Sport [GT300]
Kota Sasaki: “I am very happy to have won pole position in this memorable 100th GT series race and have it be here at my home course, Suzuka. I hadn’t been aware of the fact, but winning this fourth pole in one season is also a record, I was surprised to learn. When [Tetsuya] Yamano-san ran such a good time in Q1, I felt a bit of pressure, but it also removed any doubts I had about the condition of the car, so I was able to concentrate fully on my driving in the time attacks. The car is in such good condition that it makes me feel, “If we don’t win now, when are we ever going to win?” so I definitely want to go for the win tomorrow.”
Super GT Series