Alesi makes Toyota GT500 debut as SUPER GT testing continues

Giuliano Alesi got his first taste of Toyota’s top-class SUPER GT car on Wednesday as pre-season manufacturer testing continued at Okayama.

Alesi makes Toyota GT500 debut as SUPER GT testing continues
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The French driver was at the wheel of the TOM’S Toyota GR Supra he will share this season with reigning champion Sho Tsuboi on the opening day of a two-day test at the former Pacific Grand Prix venue featuring the majority of the GT500 field.

And it was the #36 machine TOM'S car that set the pace with a best time of 1m17.157s, beating last year's Okayama pole time by around seven tenths.

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A total of 10 cars were present at Okayama, with all five of Toyota’s Bridgestone cars in action along with a full complement of Honda NSX Type S machines.

Nissan was absent from the test, instead running at Fuji Speedway this week with its two works NISMO-operated Michelin-shod Z entries, plus its #230 test car.

The Okayama test marked the first running of the year for the majority of Toyota’s drivers, with the marque having only been represented in last month’s Suzuka test by the Yokohama-shod Racing Project Bandoh Supra - absent this time - and a solo test car shared by Tsuboi, Cerumo man Yuji Tachikawa and Rookie Racing’s Kenta Yamashita.

Notably, Ritomo Miyata had his first experience driving for the Bridgestone-shod TOM’S squad, while Yuhi Sekiguchi, last year's co-champion alongside Tsuboi, also made his test debut for new team SARD.

The #39 SARD car of Sekiguchi and Yuichi Nakayama was second-fastest, topping the afternoon session with a time of 1m17.483s, followed by the #14 Rookie GR Supra of Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima and the #37 TOM'S car of Miyata and Sacha Fenestraz.

Honda’s five teams meanwhile came fresh from last weekend’s Thanks Day fan event at Suzuka, where the revised Type S GT500 challenger was unveiled to the public officially.


Both the Team Kunimitsu machine of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino and the Dunlop-equipped Mugen car of Ukyo Sasahara and Toshiki Oyu were in action for the first time this year, having not been part of either the Suzuka January test or Honda’s private outing at Fuji that featured ARTA, Nakajima Racing and a HRD test car.

It was the Mugen car that led the way for the Honda contingent in fifth, around half a second off the pace.

Honda newcomer Nobuharu Matsushita racked up further mileage aboard the Real Racing car that he and Koudai Tsukakoshi also drove at Suzuka last month, the pair ending up sixth-fastest and second-best of the NSX-GTs.

Okayama will play host to the first of two official pre-season SUPER GT tests on March 12-13, a month prior to the season opener at the same venue.

Okayama testing times:

Pos. No. Car/Team Drivers Morning Afternoon
1 36 TOM'S Toyota

France Giuliano Alesi

Japan Sho Tsuboi

1'17.157 1'18.012
2 39 SARD Toyota

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

1'17.653 1'17.483
3 14 Rookie Toyota

Japan Kenta Yamashita

Japan Kazuya Oshima

1'17.856 1'17.555
4 37 TOM'S Toyota

France Sacha Fenestraz

Japan Ritomo Miyata

1'17.630 1'19.059
5 16 Mugen Honda

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

Japan Toshiki Oyu

1'17.685 1'18.098
6 17 Real Honda

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Japan Nobuharu Matsushita

1'17.898 1'17.693
7 100 Kunimitsu Honda

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

1'17.726 1'17.738
8 8 ARTA Honda

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

1'17.775 1'17.853
9 38 Cerumo Toyota

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

1'18.654 1'17.921
10 64 Nakajima Honda

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Hiroki Otsu

1'18.286 1'19.039

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