Okayama Super GT: Honda locks out front row, Button fifth
Honda locked out the front row for the opening round of the 2018 Super GT season at Okayama International Circuit, with the #17 Real Racing entry topping Saturday’s qualifying session.
Rain arrived halfway through qualifying, meaning Q2 sessions for both GT500 and GT300 cars took place on a damp track.
The #3 B-Max Nissan and #8 ARTA Honda traded places at the top of the timesheets for much of qualifying, before the latter car stamped its authority with a 1m27.058s lap.
However, seconds before the chequered flag dropped, Koudai Tsukakoshi went a tenth quicker with a time of 1m26.905s, securing the #17 Real Racing NSX-GT he shares with Takashi Kogure pole position for the season opener.
Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa had to settle for second position in the ARTA car, while B-Max duo Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo finished over four tenths adrift in third.
Kazuya Oshima and Formula E star Felix Rosenqvist were classified fourth in the leading Lexus entry, the #6 Team LeMans, less than a tenth shy of the #3 Nissan.
Formula 1 2009 champion Jenson Button qualified fifth in the #100 Team Kunimitsu Honda, having taken over from teammate Naoki Yamamoto after Q1.
Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Mitsunori Takaboshi could only manage sixth in the #24 Kondo Nissan after topping a dry first leg of qualifying.
The #19 Bandoh Lexus crew of Yuji Kunimoto and Kenta Yamashita were ranked seventh, while the #24 NISMO crew of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda ended eighth after failing to set a representative time in Q2.
Defending champions Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa were unable to progress from Q1 and will start ninth in the #1 TOM’S Lexus, just ahead of the #38 Zent/Cerumo Lexus of Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa.
Lamborghini takes GT300 pole
Pole in the GT300 class went to the #88 JLOC Lamborghini of Marco Mapelli and Kazuki Hiramine.
Mapelli, who took a class win in the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour, lapped the Okayama circuit in 1m33.925s, less than two tenths ahead of the #21 Team Hitotsuyama Audi of Richard Lyons and Ryuichiro Tomita.
The Gainer squad gave the new generation Nissan GT-R GT3 a successful debut, with the Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda qualifying third in team's #11 car.
GT500 Qualifying Results:
|1|| Koudai Tsukakoshi |
|2|| Tomoki Nojiri |
|Honda||1'18.696 || |
|3|| Satoshi Motoyama |
|4|| Kazuya Oshima |
|5|| Naoki Yamamoto |
|Honda||1'18.332 || |
|6|| Joao Paulo de Oliveira |
|7|| Yuji Kunimoto |
|8|| Tsugio Matsuda |
|Nissan||1'18.370 || |
|9|| Ryo Hirakawa |
|10|| Yuji Tachikawa |
|11|| Daiki Sasaki |
|12|| Hideki Mutoh |
|13|| Bertrand Baguette |
|14|| Kazuki Nakajima |
|15|| Heikki Kovalainen |
Super GT 2018 season preview: All you need to know
Okayama Super GT: Honda wins, Button takes surprise second