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Qualifying report
Super GT Fuji II

Fuji SUPER GT: Kondo Nissan beats the Hondas to pole

Nissan squad Kondo Racing scored pole position for this weekend's Fuji SUPER GT round, as Daiki Sasaki narrowly beat the two ARTA Hondas to the top spot.

The #24 Kondo Nissan Z of Sasaki and Kohei Hirate entered qualifying firmly among the favourites for pole, carrying only 6kg of success ballast and having taken the top spot last time out at Suzuka, only to be stripped of pole due to a fuel tank infraction.

Hirate was second-fastest in Q1 behind the #16 ARTA Honda NSX-GT of Nirei Fukuzumi, but come the Q2 pole shootout, it was Sasaki that was in command, setting a time of 1m27.763s to grab pole.

That was a scant 0.050 seconds up on the #16 car, which had Hiroki Otsu at the wheel for Q2.

Toshiki Oyu was third-fastest in the sister #8 ARTA Honda that he shares with Tomoki Nojiri, seemingly not impacted by the collarbone injury he suffered last month.

  • Motorsport.tv is showing all qualifying sessions and races for the 2023 SUPER GT season. For more information, click here.

Despite carrying a stage one fuel flow restrictor as part of a nominal 58kg success handicap, the #3 NDDP Racing Nissan was an impressive fourth-fastest in Q2 in the hands of Katsumasa Chiyo.

Next up were another pair of Hondas, the #17 Real Racing car of Nobuharu Matsushita and the #100 Team Kunimitsu machine of Naoki Yamamoto.

Toyota managed to get just one of its six GR Supras through to Q2, and it was sentimental favourite Yuji Tachikawa - who announced his impending retirement last week - that led the marque's charge in seventh for the Cerumo team.

Next of the Supras was the Suzuka-winning Racing Project Bandoh car, which was quickest of those to be knocked out in Q1 in ninth.

Nissan's other two contenders, the #23 NISMO car that has been repaired after Tsugio Matsuda's huge Suzuka crash, and the Team Impul machine of Bertrand Baguette, were both knocked out in 13th and 14th places.

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The points-leading #36 TOM'S Toyota, which is carrying a stage two fuel flow restrictor, was slowest of all in Q1 in the hands of Ritomo Miyata and will start 15th.

GT300: Goodsmile Mercedes takes dominant pole

In the GT300 class, Mercedes squad Goodsmile Racing scored its first pole in six years courtesy of Nobuteru Taniguchi.

Taniguchi had already set a time good enough for pole on his first flying lap in Q2 with a 1m36.617s, but lowered the bar even further with a 1m36.395s in the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with Q1 pacesetter Tatsuya Kataoka.

The works Subaru BRZ was second in the hands of Hideki Yamauchi, a little over three tenths off the pace, closely followed by the apr-built Lexus LC500h of Kazuto Kotaka in third.

Next up were the best of the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s, the #11 Gainer machine of Keishi Ishikawa, the brand-new JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2 driven by Takashi Kogure and ex-Formula 1 racer Roberto Merhi in the Team LeMans Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Teppei Natori could only manage 11th in the points-leading Kondo Racing Nissan he shares with Joao Paulo de Oliveira, struggling with 90kg of success ballast.

The Suzuka-winning Team Studie BMW M4 GT3 (75kg) of Seiji Ara was narrowly knocked out in Q1 and will start 17th.

Faring even worse were two other title contenders, the Saitama Toyopet Toyota GR Supra (84kg) and the Inging Toyota GR86 GT (90kg), which will start down in 22nd and 23rd respectively.

UPDATE: The apr Lexus that had qualified third was disqualified due to the use of illegal fuel.

SUPER GT rules state cars must use fuel either supplied by the GTA or sold at the circuit where the race is being held, but the LC500h was found to be using fuel from the previous round at Suzuka in post-qualifying inspection. 

It promotes the #11 Gainer Nissan to third on the grid for Sunday's race ahead of the #88 JLOC Lamborghini and the Team LeMans Audi.

GT500 qualifying results:

Pos.

No.

Car

Drivers

Team

Tyre

Time

1

24

Nissan

Japan Kohei Hirate

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Kondo Racing

Y

1'27.763

2

16

Honda

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

Japan Hiroki Otsu

ARTA

B

1'27.813

3

8

Honda

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Toshiki Oyu

Japan Iori Kimura

ARTA

B

1'27.852

4

3

Nissan

Japan Katsumasa Chiyo

Japan Mitsunori Takaboshi

NDDP Racing

M

1'28.114

5

17

Honda

Japan Nobuharu Matsushita

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Real Racing

B

1'28.226

6

100

Honda

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

Kunimitsu

B

1'28.295

7

38

Toyota

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Cerumo

B

1'28.326

8

64

Honda

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Kakunoshin Ota

Nakajima Racing

D

1'28.667

9

19

Toyota

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Sena Sakaguchi

Racing Project Bandoh

Y

1'28.608 (Q1)

10

39

Toyota

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

SARD

B

1'28.708

11

14

Toyota

Japan Kenta Yamashita

Japan Kazuya Oshima

Rookie Racing

B

1'28.764

12

37

Toyota

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

France Giuliano Alesi

TOM'S

B

1'28.802

13

23

Nissan

Japan Tsugio Matsuda

Italy Ronnie Quintarelli

NISMO

M

1'28.842

14

1

Nissan

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

Impul

B

1'29.238

15

36

Toyota

Japan Sho Tsuboi

Japan Ritomo Miyata

TOM'S

B

1'29.436

 

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