The official qualifying for the MOTEGI GT GRAND FINAL, Round 8 of the 2017 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Motegi Twin Ring circuit (Tochigi Prefecture) on November 11 (Sat.). In the GT500 class, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli won pole position for the first time this season. In the GT300 class, the class pole position went to the series point ranking leader, the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka.
In this 8th and final round of the 2017 series, the champions for both the GT500 and GT300 classes will be decided. In addition to the title race, attention has also been drawn to this round because of the demonstration runs to be put on by visiting cars from Germany’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, which has been deepening ties with SUPER GT through such moves as a unification of the technical regulations for the two series’ cars and more.
In the GT500 class Q1 session that started from 2:20 in the afternoon, the cars began to take to the track with about seven minutes remaining in the session to then start their flying laps. Among them, it was the No. 46 S Road CRAFTSPORTS GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) that recorded the fastest lap time of 1’37.224 in the Q1 session. The second fastest time was run by the 3rd-ranked No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda) that still has a chance for a come-from-behind title win. Recording the third fastest time was another title contender, the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Kazuki Nakajima). In contrast, another title contender, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Hiroaki Ishiura) could only manage to finish in 9th place and thus failed to move on to Q2.
The GT500 class Q2 session started at 3:05. Here again, the eight cars that qualified for the Q2 didn’t begin going out on the track until less than eight minutes remained in the session. Now they would be gearing up for a strong one-shot trial aimed at the checkered lap in order to get pole position, which would mean not only a valuable point toward the championship title but also the most advantageous starting position for the race.
In SUPER GT the pole positions are almost always decided by fractions of seconds, but this time the 3rd-ranked No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) would outrun the 2nd place qualifier by a big margin of 0.861 sec. to set a course record and capture pole position with a time of 1’36.316. The 4-time GT500 champion Quintarelli even surprised himself with this fantastic time that thrill the Motegi spectators. But, the other title contenders were right on his tail, with the 2nd-ranked No. 6 WAKO’S 4CR LC500 (Kazuya Oshima) qualifying second and the ranking leader, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa) qualifying 3rd. With these three title contenders in the three front positions on the starting grid for tomorrow’s race, there are sure to be fireworks when the race gets underway.
In the GT300 class qualifying, it was the ranking leader, the No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi), that qualified fastest in the Q1 session with a time of 1’46.825. And in the Q2 session, it was again the GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG, driven this time by Tatsuya Kataoka, that was fastest, posting a course-record time of 1’46.076. For Kataoka, it was his first pole position in SUPER GT competition, and it gave the team an extra point of lead in the ranking for winning pole to further increase the team’s advantage going into the decisive final race. Meanwhile, the 4th-ranked No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi), which also has a shot at the title, finished the qualifying in 2nd position. And, the 3rd-ranked No. 65 LEON CVSTOS AMG (Naoya Gamou) qualified 3rd. As for the 2nd-ranked No. 51 JMS P.MU LMcorsa RC F GT3, its 8th-place qualifying position leaves it in a difficult position for tomorrow’s race. But overall, these qualifying results ensure that there will also be hot competition for the title in tomorrow’s final.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
“It turned out to be a great day for us. Until we got here, the team and we drivers had been thinking hard about how to make the car faster a get in the best condition possible for this race. In Q1, I was a bit worried when Tsugio (Matsuda) made his trial one lap late, but when I saw his sector times on that lap, I felt confident (about our machine’s potential). In Q2, I was sure that I could get pole if I ran well. In tomorrow’s race, I won’t be thinking about the title (because of the point gap), but first of all winning the race.”
No. 4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG
“This was my first-ever GT pole position, and I am very happy that it came (along with the extra point) at this important time in the title race. I felt a bit of pressure when I saw saw (Nobuteru) Taniguchi record the fastest time in Q1 with a magnificent flying lap, but I was also confident because Twin Ring Motegi has always been a good track for me, so (that pressure) wasn’t a real problem. Winning the pole position and the extra series point has increased our chances of winning the title. I want to go into tomorrow’s race believing that.”
Source. Super GT