YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R is No. 1 qualifier for the first time this year!
The Qualifying for Round 7 of the 2008 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the MOTEGI GT 300km RACE, was held on September 13 at the Twin Ring Motegi (one lap 4.801 km) in Tochiki Prefecture. The winner of the GT500 class pole position and the right to start the race at the front of the starting grid in the race on the 14th was the YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R (drivers: Ronnie Quintarelli/ Naoki Yokomizo).
Normally, the SUPER GT qualifying is run in a Super Lap format with each of the top ten qualifiers from the first session running a single timed "Super Lap" one at a time. However, the 7th round of the series here at Motegi adopts a Knock Out system in which the timed qualifying runs are divided into three sessions. In the first two sessions, the slowest qualifiers are "knocked out" and cannot proceed to the next session. Then in the final session, only the top qualifiers compete for grid position with timed runs. This round 7 is the only round of the season that uses this "Knock Out" system.
After running the fastest time in the first qualifying session, Yokomizo ran the fastest time in the first Knock Out session in the YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R, and then his teammate Quintarelli ran the fastest time in the second Knock Out session and again in the final session to win a perfect sweep and the pole position. For the HASEMI MOTOR SPORT team, this is their first pole position since round six of last season, and for Quintarelli it is the first SUPER GT pole of his career. With this, a Nissan GT-R will be starting on the front row for the fifth time this season.
In the GT300 class, the YUNKER POWER TAISAN PORSCHE driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi came out on top by the slightest of margins to win the team's first class pole of the season.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 3 YellowHat YMS TOMICA GT-R [GT500]
Ronnie Quintarelli: "This really feels great! Our car has been performing fantastically from the Friday free practice sessions and thanks to that, I was able to get my first pole position. I want to say thanks to everyone on the team. Yesterday afternoon our car ran fast on used tires but it wasn't easy. So last night some more work was done on the machine in a number of areas and it was much better this morning. We were fastest in all the sessions today, so I'm full of confidence that we can win tomorrow (laughs). Me and Naoki (Yokomizo) and the team are all going to do our best to make sure we end up on the highest step of the podium tomorrow."
Naoki Yokomizo: "The machine has been running very well from the beginning this week and we got the fastest time in all the sessions. I think the machine's performance gave Ronnie the confidence to go out and drive hard in the timed laps. For me too, I was able to go out and get the top time in the first Knock Out session while still managing to put as little wear as possible on the tires. In that sense I think I contributed toward winning this pole position, and that makes me very happy. The mood in the team has been Ok too, and we came here to Motegi thinking that we have got to win this round. If we are able to bring out the full potential of the machine in tomorrow's race, you should see us on the top rung of the podium. First of all, I want to avoid making any mistakes, so I can help reward the team for all the hard work they have done."
No. 26 YUNKER POWER TAISAN PORSCHE [GT300]
Nobuteru Taniguchi: "This was my first pole position and it makes me very happy. This course at Motegi is one where the Porsche has an advantage and the one in Japan where we have the best chance of winning. And, that is what we came here intending to do. In the Knock Out sessions, Yamaji san went out first and saved the best part of the tire for me so that I was able to run well in the second and third sessions. In the last timed lap I went out and pushed hard, not worrying about whether that would cause me to run off the track, but the Yokohama Rubber tires still maintained good grip when they were worn down considerably. So I was able to get a better time than I expected. In the race tomorrow I will be starting from the front position, so I want to keep that position so I can turn the machine over to Yamaji san with a lead. The aim is simply to run away."
Shinichi Yamaji: "I was thinking pragmatically that we would be doing well to finish about third in the qualifying. We owe this pole win to the strength of the Yokohama Rubber tire team and to Taniguchi san's fantastic last lap, which was made possible because the machine was running in what I feel to be exactly as you'd want it to. The machine's set-up has been constantly improving and it is getting faster, too. With Taniguchi san having won us the pole position like this, and with the team in the positive mindset it's in, we have to go out there and get a good result tomorrow. And for all the people we know are out there cheering for us, we are going to try to be on the TV screen [in the lead] as much as possible (laughs)."