Okayama Super GT: Honda locks out front row, Button fifth

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Okayama Super GT: Honda locks out front row, Button fifth
Rachit Thukral
By: Rachit Thukral
Apr 7, 2018, 7:30 AM

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:

PoDriverCarQ1Q2
1  Koudai Tsukakoshi
 Takashi Kogure
Honda
1'18.351
1'26.905

2  Tomoki Nojiri
 Takuya Izawa
Honda 1'18.696


1'27.058
3  Satoshi Motoyama
 Katsumasa Chiyo
Nissan
1'18.605
1'27.486

4  Kazuya Oshima
 Felix Rosenqvist
Lexus
1'18.576
1'27.570

5  Naoki Yamamoto
 Jenson Button
Honda 1'18.332


1'27.985
6  Joao Paulo de Oliveira
 Mitsunori Takaboshi
Nissan
1'18.160
1'28.659

7  Yuji Kunimoto
 Kenta Yamashita
Lexus
1'18.619
1'29.793

8  Tsugio Matsuda
 Ronnie Quintarelli
Nissan 1'18.370


1'35.248
9  Ryo Hirakawa
 Nick Cassidy
Lexus
1'18.796


10  Yuji Tachikawa
 Hiroaki Ishiura
Lexus
1'18.877


11  Daiki Sasaki
 Jann Mardenborough
Nissan 1'18.944



12  Hideki Mutoh
 Daisuke Nakajima
Honda
1'18.992


13  Bertrand Baguette
 Kosuke Matsuura
Honda 1'18.994



14  Kazuki Nakajima
 Yuhi Sekiguchi
Lexus
1'19.108


15  Heikki Kovalainen
 Kamui Kobayashi
Lexus 1'19.315



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Okayama Super GT: Honda wins, Button takes surprise second

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