Honda in command as SUPER GT testing continues at Suzuka
Honda dominated the timesheets on the opening day of SUPER GT's final manufacturer test of the winter at Suzuka.
The Sakura marque was out in force as its home venue on Thursday, with all five of its upgraded NSX-GT Type S machines in action as well as an additional test car during the afternoon session.
Honda topped the times in both sessions, with the #8 ARTA car of Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi setting the pace in the afternoon with a best effort of 1m44.296s - more than two tenths clear of the best time set by Nissan in January.
The #100 Kunimitsu Honda of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino was fastest in the morning on a 1m44.302s, good enough for second in the combined order.
Real Racing ensured a top-three lockout for NSX-GT teams as Koudai Tsukakoshi and new teammate Nobuharu Matsushita went second-fastest in the afternoon and third overall.
Toyota likewise had all six of its full-season GR Supras present for the Suzuka test, which precedes the Fan Thanks Day event at the Japanese Grand Prix venue on Saturday and Sunday.
Best of the Toyota contingent was the #36 TOM'S entry shared by Sho Tsuboi and Giuliano Alesi on a 1m44.686s, while the SARD machine of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Yuichi Nakayama was sixth overall behind the Mugen Honda.
Nissan had the smallest presence for the Suzuka test with only two of its brand-new Zs running on Thursday: the #24 Kondo Racing machine on Yokohama tyres, and the #230 test car which ran on Bridgestone rubber in the hands of Impul pair Bertrand Baguette and Kazuki Hiramine.
Quicker of the pair was the pseudo-Impul machine in 10th on a best time of 1m45.178s.
Baguette and Hiramine are scheduled to return to their usual #12 machine for the second day of testing on Friday, with Kondo duo Kohei Hirate and Daiki Sasaki making use of the #230 test mule.
Neither of Nissan's works-operated NISMO cars, the #3 and #23 cars, were present at the test as they have both already used up their allocation of six test days, having undergone private running at Fuji Speedway and Motegi last month following their Suzuka appearance in January.
Testing continues on Friday prior to the Thanks Day event that will feature a 'dummy' race between 14 GT500 machines on Sunday. Okayama will then host the first official pre-season test on March 12-13.
Suzuka testing times:
Hirate backs Yokohama to win races after Kondo Nissan move
Honda concludes Suzuka SUPER GT testing on top
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