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Qualifying report

Suzuka SUPER GT: Fukuzumi puts Honda on pole, Toyotas struggle

ARTA driver Nirei Fukuzumi delivered a final SUPER GT pole position for the Honda NSX-GT at Suzuka in qualifying for this weekend’s fifth round of the season.

On what will be the last visit for the NSX to Honda’s home track before it is replaced by the new Civic Type R-GT next year, Fukuzumi posted a 1m46.385s at the end of the Q2 pole shootout to grab the top spot in the #16 ARTA car he shares with Hiroki Otsu.

But it could have been the sister #8 car on pole if not for a crucial error by Toshiki Oyu exiting Degner 2 on his hot lap.

Oyu, whose team-mate Tomoki Nojiri topped Q1, was only 0.192s off pole in third place despite the mistake, which left him behind not only Fukuzumi but also the #23 NISMO Nissan Z of Ronnie Quintarelli on the grid.

Next up were another pair of Hondas, the #17 Real Racing car of Nobuharu Matsushita and the #64 Nakajima Racing machine of Takuya Izawa.

Toyota only got one of its GR Supras through to Q2, with Yuji Tachikawa qualifying the #38 Cerumo car in sixth in his final visit to Suzuka before retirement, ahead of Daiki Sasaki in the Kondo Racing Nissan, despite team-mate Kohei Hirate matching Nojiri’s Q1 time.

Team Kunimitsu made it a clean sweep of five Hondas in Q2, but didn’t take part in the pole shootout due to Tadasuke Makino’s recovery from his crash last weekend at Motegi, leaving Makino and Naoki Yamamoto eighth.

Points leaders Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi were eliminated in Q1 and line up 10th in the NDDP Racing Nissan as they struggled with the stage three fuel flow restrictor, one place behind the Impul Z of Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine.

Filling out the remaining spots on the grid are five Toyota crews, the slowest of all being the #36 TOM’S Toyota of Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata, who like the #3 Nissan crew are carrying the stage three restrictor.

UPDATE: Oyu was stripped of his Q2 lap time for exceeding track limits. It drops the #8 ARTA Honda to seventh on the grid, with the Real Racing NSX-GT moving up to third.

GT300: Subaru on pole by 0.5s

Subaru scored a dominant pole position in the GT300 class as Hideki Yamauchi beat his nearest rivals in the Q2 pole shootout by more than half a second.

#61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT

#61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

After Takuto Iguchi topped his Q1 group aboard the #61 R&D Sport-run BRZ, Yamauchi posted a 1m57.608s to go 0.525s clear of Shinichi Takagi aboard the K-tunes Racing Lexus RC F GT3 and score the team’s second pole of the season.

Takagi was the only driver to get within a second of Yamauchi, with third-placed Tatsuya Kataoka ending up 1.044s off the pace aboard the Goodsmile Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Yoshiaki Katayama had topped his Q1 segment in the Team LeMans Audi R8 LMS GT3, but team-mate Roberto Merhi could surprisingly only manage the 11th-fastest time in Q2, one place behind the Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Joao Paulo de Oliveira.

Team Studie’s points-leading BMW M4 GT3, one of two cars along with the Kondo Nissan carrying 100kg of success ballast, was 14th-fastest in Q2 in the hands of Bruno Spengler, making his return to SUPER GT for the first time since the Okayama season opener.

All three cars were promoted a place on the grid when the #2 Inging Toyota, which had qualified seventh with Hibiki Taira at the wheel, was stripped of its best lap for a track limits infringement.

The #11 Gainer Nissan that won the previous race at Fuji was slowest in its Q1 group in the hands of Keishi Ishikawa, and will start from 25th and last.

GT500 results:

1. #16 ARTA MUGEN Honda NSX-GT 1'46''385
2. #23 NISMO Nissan Z 1'46''422
3. #17 Real Racing Honda NSX-GT 1'46''659
4. #64 Nakajima Racing Honda NSX-GT 1'47''212
5. #38 ZENT CERUMO Toyota GR Supra 1'47''253
6. #24 Kondo Nissan Z 1'47''579
7. #8 ARTA MUGEN Honda NSX-GT time deleted (1'46''577)
8 #100 Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT no time

9. #1 IMPUL Nissan Z 1'47''666 (Q1)
10. #3 NDDP Nissan Z 1'47''780
11. #14 Rookie Racing Toyota GR Supra 1 '47''831
12. #39 SARD Toyota GR Supra 1'47''839
13. #19 Racing Project Bandoh Toyota GR Supra 1'47''840
14. #37 TOM'S Toyota GR Supra 1'48''114
15. #36 TOM'S Toyota GR Supra 1'48''274

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