GT500 Rookie Kazuya Oshima takes his first Pole Position

The Qualifying for Round 6 of the 2009 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the 38th INTERNATIONAL Pokka GT SUMME SPECIAL was held on Aug. 22 at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807km) in Mie Prefecture. Winning the pole position was the KRAFT SC430 (drivers Hiroaki Ishiura/Kazuya Oshima). They will be starting from front position on the grid for the race on the 23rd.

Unlike in past races, this year's qualifying for round 6 was run in a "knock-out" format consisting of three sessions of timed laps. In this system the slower performers in the first two sessions are knocked out of the competition, leaving the fastest qualifiers to compete in the final session to decide the starting grid order based on their timed trials.

During the morning practice session, Hiroaki Ishiura drove the KRAFT SC430 to the second fastest time, a mere 0.012 sec. behind the leader at 1 min. 56.895 sec.

In the afternoon's first qualifying session, Oshima drove and was able to advance to the second session with the 8th fastest time. In the second session Ishiura drove and beat his morning record with a 1 min. 55.691 sec. lap to qualify second. In the third session Oshima drove again and managed a lap of 1 min. 55.724 sec. None of the other teams were able to match this time and the pole position went to the Oshima and the KRAFT SC430 team.

This is Oshima's rookie season in the GT500 class and this was his first pole position. For the Lexus SC430 this is the second PP of the season, following the opening round. Or the RAFT team this is the first pole position since round 5 of the 2004 season.

In the GT300 class the DAISHIN ADVAN Ferrari driven by Takayuki Aoki won the class pole position for the second round in a row with Aoki running a lap time of 2 min. 7.439 sec. After the qualifying, the initial top qualifying triple a MURCIE RG-1 was found to have a regulation violation in its air box that caused its qualifying time to be disqualified.

+Pole Position Winner Comments

No. 35 KRAFT SC430 [GT500]

Hiroaki Ishiura: "Before this round we were able to do some tests and both Oshima and I got some experience on the new tires. At that time Oshima was fast, so I told him he could do the important runs this time. He lived up to those expectations today. I was able to watch his driving with a sense of assurance and he did the job well. I had talked with the team and we decided to have Oshima do the final time attack for the grid position, and even if this hadn't been a knock-out format, he would have been our Super Lap driver. We have decided to go all out in this race, so we will be racing all-out from the start tomorrow and I am hoping that we can run away to victory"

Kazuya Oshima: "I am just really relieved. In the first session I just barely managed to qualify us for the second session by qualifying in 8th position. In the second session all the teams were running quite fast times, so I knew that I would have to drive faster than ever before in the third session if we were going to get the pole position. At the start of my lap I was pretty nervous. But I was able to get through it with no mistakes, so I am quite relieved. I'm happy to win my first pole position, but if I make any mistakes in the race tomorrow it is going to be that much more noticed (laughs). I'm already starting to get nervous about tomorrow's race (winces). We have the pole position, so now the only thing is to go out there and win the race."

No. 81 DAISHIN ADVAN Ferrari [GT300]

Takayuki Aoki: "For the third qualifying session we used tires that are for the race, so I didn't think we had a chance of getting the pole position, so I was think it would be OK as long as we got a second row spot on the grid. But during the second half of the session the conditions got better, and since my time attack also went well we were able to win the pole position. But there is no real margin over the teams behind us in terms of the lap time, so I think it is going to be a closely contested race. We haven't decided on our race strategy for tomorrow, including who will be the first driver. The rule this time is that all the teams have to make three pit stops during the race, which gives the Ferrari an advantage, considering its higher fuel consumption. But we also take longer in the pit stops [for refueling], so I hope to try to keep us from getting passed because of that. It looks like our rivals will be cars No. 43 and No. 26. Perhaps No. 74 will also be a dark horse to watch."

-credit: superGT