Suzuka 1000km: Nissan takes shock pole, Button ninth

The #24 Kondo Nissan crew of Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Daiki Sasaki claimed a surprise pole position for the Suzuka 1000km race, as 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button qualified ninth on his Super GT debut.

Oliveira, who was nominated by Kondo Racing to take part in the second leg of qualifying, lapped the Suzuka circuit in 1m47.74s to secure Nissan’s first pole position of the year.

While only two Lexus cars made it into Q2, the highest-placed of them made it to the front row of the grid courtesy of defending Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto.

The Japanese driver, who is part of the #19 WedsSports Bandoh line-up alongside former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi and Yuhi Sekiguchi, qualified second after lapping less than two tenths slower than Oliveira.

Honda locked the second row, with the #17 Real Racing duo of Takashi Kogure and Koudai Tsukakoshi edging out Kosuke Matsuura and Bertrand Baguette’s #64 Nakajima NSX-GT.

The #46 Mola Nissan of three-time Super GT champion Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo qualified fifth, while the #100 Team Kunimutsu had to settle for sixth after a mistake on the final flyer by Takuya Izawa.

The Honda squad was fastest in Q1 in the hands of Naoki Yamamoto and looked set for a pole position until Izawa ran wide during his flyer.

The #12 Impul Nissan of GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough and Hironobu Yasuda was next up in seventh, while Okayama winners Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa qualified eighth in the #37 TOM’S.

Button, who shares the #16 Mugen Honda with Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima, drove the car in Q1 but missed out making it to Q2 by just 0.089s.

The trio will start the race from the fifth row on the grid, alongside the second TOM’S car of Kazuki Nakajima and James Rossiter.

GT300: Toyota locks top three spots

The #25 VivaC crew of Takamitsu Matsui and Kenta Yamashita led a Toyota 1-2-3 in the GT300 class.

Despite 86 kg of ballast, Yamashita broke the lap record with a 1m57.543s en route to his first Super GT pole.

The #18 Team Upgarage duo of Yuhki Nakayama and Shintaro Kawabata qualified second, while the third spot was filled by Tetsuji Tamanaka, Kiyoto Fujinami and Natsu Sakaguchi in the #5 Team Mach.

Team Ukyo’s championship-leading crew of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka were the best of the rest in the #4 Mercedes.

Results:

PoDriverCarQ1Q2
1  Daiki Sasaki
 Joao Paulo de Oliveira
 Nissan 1'48.191


1'47.074 R
2  Yuhi Sekiguchi
 Yuji Kunimoto
 Kamui Kobayashi
Lexus 1'47.582



1'47.269 R

3  Koudai Tsukakoshi
 Takashi Kogure
Honda
1'48.407
1'47.648

4  Bertrand Baguette
 Kosuke Matsuura
Honda 1'48.224


1'47.812
5  Satoshi Motoyama
 Katsumasa Chiyo
Nissan
1'47.588
1'47.977

6  Naoki Yamamoto
 Takuya Izawa
Honda 1'47.576


1'48.202
7  Hironobu Yasuda
 Jann Mardenborough
Nissan
1'48.499
1'48.244

8  Ryo Hirakawa
 Nick Cassidy
TOM'S 1'48.196


1'48.713
9  Hideki Mutoh
 Daisuke Nakajima
 Jenson Button
Honda

1'48.588



10  Kazuki Nakajima
 James Rossiter
Lexus 1'48.825



11  Kazuya Oshima
 Andrea Caldarelli
Lexus 1'49.002



12  Tsugio Matsuda
 Ronnie Quintarelli
Nissan 1'49.146



13  Yuji Tachikawa
 Hiroaki Ishiura
Lexus 1'49.196



14  Heikki Kovalainen
 Kohei Hirate
Lexus
1'49.229


15  Tomoki Nojiri
 Takashi Kobayashi
Honda 1'50.120



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About this article
Series Super GT
Article type Qualifying report