The Calsonic Impul GT-R GT500 team of De Oliveira and Matsuda will start on the pole on the Sepang International Circuit. In the GT300, the front row goes to the two CR-Z hybrid machines!
The qualifying for the Super GT International Series Malaysia race, round 3 of the Super GT this season is being held on the Sepang International Circuit (lap = 5.543 km) in Malaysia on June 15th. In the GT500 class, the Calsonic Impul GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Joao Paulo de Oliveira won pole position. In the GT300 class, the two Honda CR-Z machines finished 1st and 2nd in the qualifying. This is the first time that hybrid cars have taken the top two positions in the qualifying for a Super GT race.
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.
In Q1, the Calsonic Impul GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda recorded the fastest time of 1’55.620. The Weider Modulo HSV-010 driven by Frederic Makowiecki recorded the second fastest time. On the other hand, among those who were not able to make the cut-off for Q2 were last season’s championship winning Motul Autech GT-R driven by Masataka Yanagida, qualifying 9th, and James Rossiter in the Petronas Tom’s SC430.
In Q2, the Weider Modulo HSV-010 driven by Naoki Yamamoto and the Raybrig HSV-010 driven by Takuya Izawa ran fast times early on, but later Yamamoto lost control of his machine, resulting in a costly run off the track that left him in last position in Q2. The Raybrig also had trouble improving on its time in the latter stages of the session.
During the pre-qualifying practice and throughout the qualifying the track surface proved to be slippery, causing a large number of cars to run off the track or spin out. Despite this, Joao Paulo de Oliveira in the Calsonic Impul GT-R continued to run consistently fast and recorded a stunning fastest time of 1’ 55.456. On his last timed attack, the Zent Cerumo SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa), the KeePer Tom’s SC430 and others closed the gap but failed to better the Calsonic’s time. This gave De Oliveira his first pole position at Sepang.
For De Oliveira, this is his second PP, following the one at round six in the 2012 season, and for the Nissan GT-R it is its second of this season and 18th overall.
In the GT300 class, Shinichi Takagi in the Arta CR-Z GT recorded a course record of 2’03.025 in winning the class pole position. It was Takagi’s seventh career PP and the second for the CR-Z.
Finishing 2nd in the GT300 qualifying came the Mugen CR-Z GT driven by Hideki Mutoh, thus putting two hybrid cars on the front row for Sunday’s race.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 12 Calsonic Impul GT-R [GT500]
Joao Paulo de Oliveira: “From the beginning of the morning practice we weren’t getting the times we wanted, so we kept working little by little on the settings, but we still weren’t getting the results we hoped for. During the interval before the qualifying we re-thought the direction of the settings and tried some new settings. That proved successful. In Q1, Tsugio-san ran the fastest first and second sector times and got the fastest overall time, so I was confident that I could get the pole position. So, I am glad that I was able to get the best time in Q2 and win pole position. The race will be a long one, so in tomorrow’s morning practice we need to find settings that will be easier on the tires. Of course, I want us to get the win.”
No. 55 Arta CR-Z GT [GT300]
Shinichi Takagi: “Coming off the good flow from round two at Fuji, the condition of the car was good from the time we arrived here, so in the morning practice we only had to make a few adjustments to get settings we were satisfied with. In Q1, Kobayashi got a surprisingly fast time, which gave me more assurance that the car was in good condition. At the same time, that time was so good that it put the pressure on the competitors (wry grin). In the last round at Fuji my mistake caused our qualifying time to be nullified, and that made this month and a half a painfully long interval for me. Fortunately this has reconciled everything. In tomorrow’s free practice I want to improve the setting a little more so I can be here for a press interview again after the race.”