Fuji Super GT: Nissan takes pole in red-flagged qualifying
Nissan locked out the front-row for SUPER GT’s Fuji 500-mile race after the qualifying session ended prematurely following a major crash for Koudai Tsukakoshi.
Tsukakoshi lost control of his Real Racing Honda NSX-GT under braking for Turn 1, slamming the barriers hard and necessitating a red flag.
With just 20 seconds left on the clock at the time the red flag was deployed, the session was not restarted - and results declared based on laptimes set prior to the intervention.
The factory-entered NISMO GT-R of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda assumed its third pole position of the season, courtesy of Matsuda’s time of 1m28.519s.
- This Sunday's SUPER GT race at Fuji will be streamed live and for free on Motorsport.tv from 4:30am GMT.
Frederic Makowiecki and Kohei Hirate qualified second in the similar Michelin-shod B-Max Nissan, 0.130s down on the pole-sitting car.
Nissan is the only GT500 manufacturer yet to win a race this season, despite largely topping pre-season testing and scoring poles in three out of five rounds so far.
The Bandoh Lexus of Sho Tsuboi and Yuji Kunimoto, which secured its first podium of the season in Thailand last time, qualified three tenths off the pace in third.
Fuji specialists Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura set the fourth-fastest time in the Cerumo Lexus, heading the #36 TOM’S Lexus of Kazuki Nakajima and Yuhi Sekiguchi.
Jann Mardenborough, who led last year’s Fuji 500-mile round until a late technical issue, qualified sixth in the #24 Kondo Nissan he shares with Mitsunori Takaboshi.
The Nakajima Honda team enjoyed its best qualifying finish of the season in seventh, with Narain Karthikeyan and Tadasuke Makino at the wheel.
The Real Racing Honda of Tsukakoshi and Bertrand Baguette was left eighth, having not set a timed lap prior to Tsukakoshi’s major off at turn 1.
Reigning champions Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto were knocked out in Q1, the Kunimitsu Honda duo qualifying 10th for the bonus-points race.
The points-leading LeMans Lexus of Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima will start 11th, three places ahead of its chief championship rival, the #1 TOM’S Lexus LC500 of Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa.
Both cars were saddled with heavy success ballast, including fuel flow restrictors that limit the top speed on Fuji’s long start-finish straight.
Toyota on pole in GT300 class
GT300 pole honours went to the #52 Saitama Toyopet Toyota Mark X MC, with Hiroki Yoshida and Shigekazu Wakisaka delivering a laptime of 1m37.316s.
Saitama Toyopet ended the two-round pole streak of the Tsuchiya Engineering squad, whose #25 Toyota 86 MC qualified second with Takamitsu Matsui, Takeshi Tsuchiya and Kimiya Sato behind the wheel.
Takayuki Aoki, Atsushi Tanaka and Yusaku Shibata placed the #360 Tomei Sports Nissan GT-R in third, 0.138s off the pace of the pole-sitters.
The factory-supported #7 D'station Aston Martin Vantage GT3, whose regular line-up of Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Tomonobu Fujii has been bolstered by Darren Turner at Fuji, qualified 10th, one place ahead of the points-leading #55 ARTA Honda NSX GT3 of Nirei Fukuzumi and Shinichi Takagi.
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