Suzuka: Series qualifying report

Suzuka: Series qualifying report

MOTUL AUTECH GT-R comes from behind to grab pole position! For the morning's first official qualifying session began at 10:00 under clear skies. The first 20 minutes were for the GT300 class. As the drivers were steadily quickening their lap...

MOTUL AUTECH GT-R comes from behind to grab pole position!

For the morning's first official qualifying session began at 10:00 under clear skies. The first 20 minutes were for the GT300 class. As the drivers were steadily quickening their lap times at about 10:15, the No. 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC 408R driven by Shinsuke Shibahara ran off the track on the 130R curve. The machine hit the track-side sponge barrier hard and the red flag came out to stop the session.

About 15 minutes later the remaining five minutes of the GT300 class session resumed. All the team hustled to turn in the fastest time, and it was Hiroki Katoh in the No. 2 Privee KENZO Asset Shiden who scored the fastest lap.

The next 20 minutes were for the GT500 class. After their setting changes and tire warm-ups were complete, the teams waited for the right timing for their timed runs. The serious attempts began with about five minutes remaining in the session. The 1 min. 51.542 sec. time of the No. 23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R (Benoit Treluyer) became the time to beat. With two minutes left in the session Michael Krumm in the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R1 ran a 1 min. 52.165 sec. lap. This gave the NISMO (GT-R) machines a 1-2 finish for the session. Then the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) ran the third best time to make it a 1-2-3 finish for the GT-R teams.

The last 20 minutes was a mixed session for the two classes. There were no cars in the GT500 class that succeeded in bettering their positions during this session, which made the top ten qualifiers for the Super Lap the three GT-R machines, followed by the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Andre Lotterer), No. 18 TAKATA DOME NSX (Takashi Kogure), No. 24 WOODONE ADVAN Clarion GT-R (Joao Paulo Lima De Oliveira), No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa), No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval), No. 1 ARTA NSX (Ralph Firman) and the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX (Yuji Ide).

In the GT300 class, the No. 66 DGRQ MURCIE RG-1 (Koji Yamanishi) and the No. 110 KUMHO BOXSTER-GT (Hidetoshi Mitsusada) managed to better their times to change the top ten order to No. 2, followed by the No. 7 ORC AMEMIYA SGC-7 (Hiroyuki Iiri), No. 26 YUNKER POWER TAISAN PORSCHE (Nobuteru Taniguchi), No. 81 DAISHIN ADVAN Z (Takayuki Aoki), No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Shinichi Takagi), No. 66, No. 46 MOLA LEOPALACE Z (Kazuki Hoshino), No. 77 CUSCO DUNLOP SUBARU IMPREZA (Tetsuya Yamano), No. 19 WedsSport Celica (Manabu Orido) and No. 110.

Privee KENZO Asset Shiden takes class pole with ease

The second qualifying session began at 14:00. As with the morning session, the second session was also run under clear skies.

The first 15 minutes were for the GT300 class and the next 15 for the GT500 class. Here, two GT300 class machines that had failed to get qualifying times in the morning session, the No. 16 CHUGAI UEMATSU 350R (Katsuhiko Tsutsui) and the No. 118 4CARAT SON GT3 (Takashi Miyamoto), succeeded in qualifying for the final race. Mean while, two machines that had failed the car inspection and were unable to run in the morning session, the No. 87 AKTIO GALLARDO RG-3 and the No. 88 DGRQ GALLARDO RG-3, managed to pass the inspection for the afternoon session but didn't succeed in running times fast enough to qualify. As a result, the decision as to whether they could run in the final was left up to the steward of the meeting. Also, the No. 62 WILLCOM ADVAN VEMAC 408R, which had crashed in the morning session, withdrew from the final due to machine damage.

The GT300 class was the first to run its Super Lap. Running fifth in the order, the No. 66 DGRQ MURCIE RG-1 (Koji Yamanishi) spun out in the chicane and failed to get a Super Lap time. That incident slightly affected the run of the following machines, the No. 43 ARTA Garaiya (Morio Niita) and the No. 81 DAISHIN ADVAN Z (Takayuki Aoki), and they were unable to better their morning times.

All three of the remaining three machines (the morning's top qualifiers) managed to better their times from the first session, but among them it was Hiroki Katoh in the No. 2 Privee KENZO Asset Shiden who ran by far the best lap. Although his speeds on the straights were slower than some of his rivals, he showed unmatched speed in the sections of consecutive turns and ran a time of 2 min. 05.169 sec. to take the class pole. As a result, the top three qualifiers were the same as in the morning session, with No. 2 followed by the No. 7 ORC AMEMIYA SGC-7 (Hiroyuki Irie) and the No. 26 YUNKER POWER TAISAN PORSCHE (Nobuteru Taniguchi).

In the GT500 class Super Lap, the second runner, Ralph Firman in the No. 1 ARTA NSX, hit the sponge barrier at the Degner Curve. Although Firman suffered no injury and was able to get out of the car immediately, the session had to be stopped for a while.

Once the crashed car (No. 1) had been removed, the Super lap resumed with the run of the No. 32 EPSON NSX (Loic Duval). Yuji Tachikawa in the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 and Andre Lotterer in the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 were able to better their morning times, but they still weren't a match for the three GT-R machines. First, the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) ran a time of 1 min. 51.562 sec., followed by Michael Krumm in No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, who was able to run faster than that in all sections of the course and record a 1 min. 51. 163 sec. lap. The final runner, Benoit Treluyer in the No. 23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R raced hard but fell just short of the time of Krumm in the No. 22 machine and had to settle for 2nd position.

As a result, the GT-R teams qualified 1-2-3 in the order of the No. 22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, the No. 23 XANAVI NISMO GT-R and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R. Certainly no one could have asked for a better debut showing for the new GT-R, which makes its return to GT racing this season.

Pole position winner comments

No.22 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R [GT500]

Michael Krumm: "I am very happy. Especially since this is the first official race appearance by the new GT-R. This success is due to the all the hard work and serious preparations that Nissan and the team put in during the off-season. What makes me even happier is the fact that the GT-R finished 1-2-3 in the qualifying and I was the fastest among the three. The machine's balance was a bit off in the first qualifying session, but it was fortunate that we were able to make some effective setting changes before the Super Lap so I was able to run a perfect lap."

Masataka Yanagida: "Krumm did a perfect job for us. I'm really glad with this result. Krumm was fired up from the morning session, so I was able to watch the Super Lap with a sense of assurance. In tomorrow's race we are going to see a battle between these strong GT-R machines, and the rivals are probably going to join in to make it a hot race. But if we run to our full potential, we should be able to keep the lead and win."

No.2 Privee KENZO Asset Shiden [GT300]

Hiroki Katoh: "Qualifying first in class means that we can start at our own pace in tomorrow's race, so I am happy with this. It was very frustrating for our team last year finishing 2nd even though we tied for first in series points standing. So, we did a lot of work n the off-season, and that is what brought us this good qualifying time today. Also, Yokohama Rubber prepared for us some very good tyres that turned out to be perfect for this course. These tyres are surely going to perform well in the race tomorrow. I want to help win the race and get our season off to a good start."

Kazuho Takahashi: "The car has been performing well since the GTA Official tests. I wanted to use Friday for practice, so the rain (which prevented much running) hurt. Things usually go well (in the race) when Katoh starts from the pole position and turns the car over to me in the lead, and the problems usually come from how I run the second half of the race. But you can bet I'm going to try my best."

-credit: super gt

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