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Qualifying report

Suzuka SUPER GT: Hirate bags pole for Kondo Nissan

The Kondo Racing Nissan squad scored pole position for this weekend's Suzuka SUPER GT race, as Kohei Hirate beat the Fuji-winning TOM'S Toyota to the top spot.

With zero success ballast on board, the #24 Nissan Z shared by Hirate and Daiki Sasaki looked like a contender for pole from the start of the weekend, with Sasaki setting the pace in Saturday morning practice.

Sasaki was at the wheel for Q1, going second-fastest behind the Racing Project Bandoh Toyota of Sena Sakaguchi, but in the Q2 pole shootout Hirate was the driver to beat with a best time of 1m44.320s.

That was enough to best the #36 TOM'S Toyota GR Supra of Sho Tsuboi by 0.265s, albeit with the Toyota carrying 40kg of success ballast from its victory in last month's Fuji race.

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

Yuji Kunimoto couldn't match the pace of Sakaguchi from Q1 and was only able to go third-fastest, a little under a tenth slower than Tsuboi.

Honda's top representative was the Team Kunimitsu NSX-GT in fourth place, with Naoki Yamamoto at the wheel, while reigning champion Bertrand Baguette put the Team Impul Nissan in fifth.

Completing the Q2 order were the SARD Toyota of Yuichi Nakayama and two more Hondas, the #16 ARTA car of Hiroki Otsu and the #17 Real Racing machine of Nobuharu Matsushita.

Best of the cars to miss the Q2 cut was the championship-leading #23 NISMO Nissan of Ronnie Quintarelli in ninth place, despite carrying the Italian driver carrying the maximum 50kg of success ballast.

Tomoki Nojiri, back from the collapsed lung that stopped him from taking part in the most recent round of Super Formula, was a disappointing 12th-fastest in the #8 ARTA Honda, one place ahead of the #3 NISMO car of Katsumasa Chiyo.

Subaru turns around fortunes with GT300 pole

GT300 pole went to the works Subaru BRZ, as Hideki Yamauchi posted a laptime of 1m55.775s aboard the car he shares with Takuto Iguchi in the Q2 pole shootout.

#61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT

#61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

That was enough to beat Ryuichiro Tomita in the best of the Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s by a little over three tenths of a second.

A trio of Toyota machines completed the top five, with the LM Corsa Toyota GR Supra taking third ahead of the Inging GR86 and the Tsuchiya Engineering Supra.

The Fuji-winning Kondo Nissan of Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Teppei Natori was an impressive ninth-fastest with its 66kg of success ballast, three places clear of the LEON Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Naoya Gamou/Takuro Shinohara) which carries the most ballast in the GT300 field with 72kg.

Apr's brand-new Lexus LC500h topped its Q1 group courtesy of Kazuto Kotaka, but team-mate Koki Saga could only manage 11th on the grid in Q2.

Among the cars to drop out in Q1 were the Goodsmile Racing Mercedes, which starts down in 17th, and the Saitama Toyopet Toyota Supra after a spin for Kohta Kawaai that has left the car a lowly 20th.

GT500 qualifying results:

Pos.

No.

Car

Drivers

Team

Tyre

Time

1

24

Nissan

Japan Kohei Hirate

Japan Daiki Sasaki

Kondo Racing

Y

1'44.320

2

36

Toyota

Japan Sho Tsuboi

Japan Ritomo Miyata

TOM'S

B

1'44.585

3

19

Toyota

Japan Yuji Kunimoto

Japan Sena Sakaguchi

Racing Project Bandoh

Y

1'44.679

4

100

Honda

Japan Naoki Yamamoto

Japan Tadasuke Makino

Kunimitsu

B

1'44.763

5

1

Nissan

Belgium Bertrand Baguette

Japan Kazuki Hiramine

Impul

B

1'44.920

6

39

Toyota

Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi

Japan Yuichi Nakayama

SARD

B

1'44.924

7

16

Honda

Japan Nirei Fukuzumi

Japan Hiroki Otsu

ARTA

B

1'44.945

8

17

Honda

Japan Nobuharu Matsushita

Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi

Real Racing

B

1'45.275

9

23

Nissan

Japan Tsugio Matsuda

Italy Ronnie Quintarelli

NISMO

M

1'45.347 (Q1)

10

64

Honda

Japan Takuya Izawa

Japan Kakunoshin Ota

Nakajima Racing

D

1'45.441

11

14

Toyota

Japan Kenta Yamashita

Japan Kazuya Oshima

Rookie Racing

B

1'45.666

12

8

Honda

Japan Tomoki Nojiri

Japan Toshiki Oyu

ARTA

B

1'45.789

13

3

Nissan

Japan Katsumasa Chiyo

Japan Mitsunori Takaboshi

NDDP Racing

M

1'46.069

14

37

Toyota

Japan Ukyo Sasahara

France Giuliano Alesi

TOM'S

B

1'46.106

15

38

Toyota

Japan Hiroaki Ishiura

Japan Yuji Tachikawa

Cerumo

B

1'50.030

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