EPSON HSV-010 qualifies 1st at rainy Fuji Speedway Slippery track causes havoc in tightly contested qualifying
The qualifying for the FUJI GT 500KM RACE, Round 2 of the 2012 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, took place at Fuji Speedway (one lap 4.563 km) in Shizuoka Pref. on May 3rd. The GT500 class pole position winner was EPSON HSV-010 driven by Ryo Michigami and Yuhki Nakayama. This will put the EPSON HSV-010 on the front row for the start of the race on the 4th.
I was able to put together a good run in the single lap.
The qualifying for this round was run in a Super Lap format with the drivers making their timed laps one at a time to decide the starting positions for the race. The fastest ten qualifiers of the 15 GT500 class entries in the first qualifying session won the right to compete in for the Super Lap. The fastest qualifier in this first session was the winning machine of last year’s Fuji round, the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Michael Krumm). The remaining nine qualifiers for the Super Lap were two more Nissan GT-Rs, three Honda HSV-010 GTs and four Lexus SC430s, for whom Fuji is their home track.
It was a day of difficult track conditions due to the rain that had been falling from the previous day. One of the drivers who showed excellent machine control in these tough conditions was Yuhki Nakayama, often skidding his EPSON HSV-010 skillfully through the turns. In the first session, his veteran teammate Ryo Michigami had qualified third fastest. This had put Nakayama up to run third from the last in the Super Lap order, but his order was changed to second to last when the 2nd fastest qualifier from the first session, the CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R, was forced to withdraw from the Super Lap due to machine trouble. Fortunately, the rain had lessened to a drizzle by the time of his run and Nakayama to skillfully maneuver his way to a lap time of 1’43.699 and top the time board. The only remaining contestant was the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama, holder of the record for most GT wins. Motoyama was only able to record the 4th fastest time of the session, thus giving the pole position to Nakayama.
This pole position was a personal first for Nakayama and the first one for the NAKAJIMA RACING team and Dunlop Tires since round seven of the 2009 season at Fuji. For the Honda HSV-010 GT it was also a memorable first PP ever at Fuji Speedway.
In the GT300 class, it was Katsuyuki Hiranaka who got a personal first pole position as he drove the winning car from the first round of this year’ s season, the driving GAINER DIXCEL R8 LMS. It was the first SUPER GT pole position also for the Audi R8. With this, Dunlop Tires took the PP in both the GT500 and GT300 classes.
Pole position winner comments
No. 32 EPSON HSV-010 [GT500]
Yuhki Nakayama: “This happens to be the first time I have ever run a Super Lap. I even had to ask our staff about the process (wry smile). I was able to put together a good run in the single lap. This is my fourth year in GT racing , and there have been a lot of difficult trials for me, but with this I was finally able to win a PP on the strength of my own driving, so I am very happy. The race tomorrow is a long 500 km race, so I want to concentrate and run it one lap at a time with no mistakes.”
No. 11 GAINER DIXCEL R8 LMS [GT300]
Katsuyuki Hiranaka: “ It was raining heavily in the free practice this morning and that prevented me from making a serious timed lap, so I didn’ t now how things would go in the qualifying. But it turned out that the performance of both the machine and the Dunlop tire was very good in the qualifying, and that enabled me to make a good run and take pole position in fine form. My family has come to Fuji to watch me race, so I’m glad I was able to show them a good performance. In the last round we won on the race a dry track, and now we have won the PP on a wet track. So, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race.”