The qualifying for the 46th International SUZUKA 1000km, Round 6 of the 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5.807 km) in Mie Prefecture on August 26. In the GT500 class qualifying, the No. 24 Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R driven by Daiki Sasaki and Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira won the first pole position (1st qualifier) for the KONDO RACING team (managed by Masahiko Kondo). In the GT300 class, the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC driven by Takamitsu Matsui, Kenta Yamashita and Tsubasa Kondo won the class pole for the third time this season.
First run in 1966, the SUZUKA 1000km race is one with a long tradition and has been run as a round of the SUPER GT series since 2006.But this year’s race will be the last one run as the SUZUKA 1000km race. This historic race began with the Round 6 qualifying on August 26. This knock-out format qualifying began in real summer heat. Participating as third drivers for two of the teams this time were the 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button (No. 16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT) and Kamui Kobayashi (No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN LC500), who drove here at SUZUKA when he was also an F1 driver. With a chance to see drivers of this caliber, much of the grandstand seating was full of excited fans for the start of the qualifying this day.
The Q1 session of the GT500 class qualifying began at 2:50 in the afternoon, with Button among the drivers running to the cheers of the fans. During this session, Naoki Yamamoto in the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT came close to the track record with a lap of 1’47.576. Following this time, came the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi) No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) in third position, putting one car each by the three makers in the top three. The No. 16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT driven by Button finished the session in 9th position, missing the top eight and a chance to move on to Q2.
After the GT300 class Q2 session, the GT500 class Q2 started with the temperatures slightly lower than for Q1. Under these conditions, the No. 24 Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R (Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira) ran a course record time of 1’47.074 to give the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 its first pole position of the 2017 season. For the KONDO RACING team led by Masahiko Kondo, it was a felicitous first pole position. Finishing in 2nd position was the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN LC500 (Yuji Kunimoto), giving cars running on Yokohama tires the top two positions. Finishing 3rd was the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi), which meant that in Q2 as well there was one car each by the three makers in the top three.
The fastest time in the GT300 class Q1was recorded by the No. 5 MACH SYAKEN MC86 GTNET (Kiyoto Fujinami). Then in Q2, it was the same GT300 Mother Chassis car No. 25 VivaC 86 MC (Kenta Yamashita) that set a new course record of 1’57.543. Despite carrying a handicap weight of 82 kg as the 2nd-place car in the series standings, No. 25 ran with speed that belied that handicap to take its third PP of the season. Qualifying 2nd in class was the No. 18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 (Yuhki Nakayama) and the No. 5 MACH SYAKEN MC86 GTNET qualified 3rd, meaning that Mother Chassis cars swept the top three positions.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 24 Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R
Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira
“The effect of the rain on the morning practice was something that we hadn’t expected. But the machine’s balance wasn’t bad from the time we started running. And with some adjustments made before the afternoon qualifying, the car was feeling much, much better by the second half of the session. Since Daiki [Sasaki] got us through to Q2 with his driving in Q1, and the perfect performance of the car in Q2, I was able to run a good time when I got a clean lap. I am very happy to have gotten this pole position in the last running of the SUZUKA 1000km race.”
No. 25 VivaC 86 MC
“I am very happy to have won pole position. The machine’s balance wasn’t good when we first started running [this morning], but by the start of the qualifying Takeshi-san [Tsuchiya manager and chief engineer] made corrections to make it easier to drive. We were carrying 82 kg of handicap weight but the feeling of the ca was so wonderful that you almost couldn’t notice the extra weight. Having gotten not only the pole position but also the course record, I am very pleased.”
Source. Super GT