The qualifying for the FUJI GT 500km RACE, Round 2 of the 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563m) in Shizuoka Prefecture on May 3. In the GT500 class, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 driven by Yuji Tachikawa as the Q2 driver. This extended Tachikawa’s own record for most pole positions in the GT500 class. In the GT300 class, the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka won the class pole. These two cars will start from front position on their respective class starting grids in the race on May 4.
Being in the middle of Japan’s “Golden Week” holidays, the Fuji Speedway was crowded by a large number of excited fans, including ones who had spent the night waiting for the circuit to open. The weather was fair all day, with a grand view of Mt. Fuji, at the start of the official qualifying at 2:40 in the afternoon, the air temperature was 18℃ and the track surface temperature was 30℃.
SUPER GT qualifying is conducted in a “knock-out” format with two sessions (Q1, Q2). It is a tough format in that the cars failing to finish among the designated number of top qualifiers in Q1 fail to move on to Q2 and are thus “knocked out” the qualifying at that point. In the GT500 class only the eight fastest of the 15 cars in the class qualify for Q2. In the GT500 class, from which seven cars would be knocked out in Q1, the competition was fierce from the start. After thoroughly warming up their tires, the drivers made their earnest time attacks with just minutes remaining in the Q1 session, and among them it was James Rossiter in the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 who recorded the fastest time of 1’28.056. Following by a small margin with the second fastest time of 1’28.089 was the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Hiroaki Ishiura). Other than the Lexus cars, it was Tomoki Nojiri in the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT who was fastest among the Honda NSX cars, recording a time of 1’28.480 to finish the session in 5th place. Fastest among the Nissan GT-Rs with a time of 1’28.651 to finish 8th overall was Tsugio Matsuda in the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R. Unlike in round 1, this gave a GT-R team a place in Q2, indicating that the rivals had closed the gap somewhat on the Lexus camp.
After the GT300 class Q2 session, the GT500 class Q2 session began at 3:45 in the afternoon. This session would decide the starting grid for tomorrow’s race. As in Q1, the competition was fierce and the pole position went to the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 in the hands of Yuji Tachikawa, who improved on the team’s time of 1’28.101 in Q1 to a time of 1’27.825. With this, Tachikawa this was his 22nd pole position win in SUPER GT, and it extended his own record for most PPs.
Qualifying 2nd to lead the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 camp was the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli). With this, the Nissan ace car showed its strength in spite of the talk about the advantage of the Lexus cars this season. Qualifying 3rd was the No. 6 WAKO’S 4CR LC500 (Kazuya Oshima) and 4th place went to the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Daisuke Ito).
In the GT300 class, the Round 1-winning No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG took pole position after running aggressive attacks in both Q1 and Q2. Finishing the qualifying in 2nd place was the No. 9 GULF NAC PORSCHE 911, and 3rd place went to the No. 33 D’station Porsche. This gave the top places to the German Mercedes Benz AMG GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R machines.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500
“First of all, I want to express my appreciation to the Lexus development team for making us a car that can win pole position, to our team crew for setting it up so well and to my teammate Ishiura-san. But, our big goal this time is to win here at our (Lexus/Toyota) home track, which we haven’t been able to do in three years. Since it’s a long 500 km race, winning pole position only really gives us a few meters of lead. So, tomorrow we have to concentrate on winning the race and be back here for the winner’s press conference.”
No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG
“In the opening round, I was very disappointed because the pole position was within our reach, but we missed getting it. But this time, we were finally able to get it. I felt that I had run my best attack and gotten the best time, but since I didn’t know what the others had done, it wasn’t until I took the checkered and returned to the pit that I found out (I had won pole). I was very relieved when I finally learned that we had pole.”
Source. Super GT