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The qualifying for the SUZUKA 300km – FAN FESTIVAL – race, Round 3 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Suzuka Circuit (one lap 5,804 m) in Mie Prefecture on May 19.

In the GT500 class qualifying, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT driven by Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa, while beating the course record by more than 2 sec. with a time of 1’44.319. In the GT300 class, the No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 driven by Morio Niita and Yuichi Nakayama won the class pole, also with a course record. These two machines will start from first position on their respective class grids for the race on August 20.  Until last year, the Suzuka round of the SUPER GT series was run as the Suzuka 1000km on the last weekend in August, but this year it is held as the 3rd Round of the series on May 19 and 20, and with the race length reduced from 1,000 km to the normal GT race distance of 300 km. As for the official qualifying, it is held in the same two-session “knock-out” format (Q1 and Q2) as before.  In the Q1 session of the GT500 class qualifying that started at 3:05 in the afternoon, it was the Honda NSX-GT cars that had run so strongly in the official tests held here at Suzuka in April that turned in the fastest times. Among them, it was the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa) that demolished the standing course record (1’47.074) with a new record time with a time of 1’44.806 to finished Q1 as the fastest car. Second fastest was the No. 64 Epson Modulo NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette), while third fastest was the former F1 world champion Jenson Button in the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT and also fourth place went to another NSX-GT, the No. 16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Hideki Mutoh, giving the Honda cars a sweep of the top four fastest times.

In the ensuing Q2, the top eight fastest cars from Q1 compete for pole position in ten minutes of trial runs. Here again it was the Honda cars that fought hard to win the honor of taking pole position at Suzuka, Honda’s home course. Among them, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT driven by Tomoki Nojiri took pole position by running a time of 1’44.319 to further lower the course record that his teammate Izawa had set in the Q1 session. Driving the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT, Naoki Yamamoto also turned in a fast lap of 1’44.473 to finish the Q2 session in 2nd position, just short of Nojiri’s time. The winner of the opening round at Okayama, the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) ended the session in 3rd position to give the NSX-GT the top three grid positions.  This gave the NSX-GT two out of the first three poles of the season. For Nojiri it was his third pole position following the one at last season’s Round 5 at Fuji. The fastest among the LEXUS LC500 teams was the No. 1 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa), while the fastest NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 team was the 5th position No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki).

In the GT300 class Q1 session, the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Sho Tsuboi) set a class course record with a time of 1’56.159. However, in Q2 the No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 (Yuichi Nakayama) beat that with a time of 1’55.531. The No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui) also came close to the record with a time of 1’56.140. These results gave the Lexus RC F GT3 its first pole position. For Yuichi Nakayama, it was his second pole position. Finishing Q2 in 3rd position was last years champion team, the No. 0 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Tatsuya Kataoka).

Pole Position Winner Comments

GT500 class

Tomoki Nojiri
“When [Takuya] Izawa-san recorded and amazing time in the 1’44 range in Q1, it surprised me to realize our car was capable of going this fast, and I have to admit that his time put real pressure on me. But, when I pushed too hard and couldn’t keep the in-side of the second curve, it actually helped to cool me down and concentrate so I could run the rest of the lap in full control. Until now, we had been unable to bring out the full potential of the NSX-GT to some extent, so this pole position has brought back our confidence.”

GT300 class

No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3
Yuichi Nakayama
“I am very happy to have won this pole position. It is the first pole for the RC F and for our team. This shows that the RC F GT3 (which won two races last season) can also win pole positions. Although we hadn’t been able to get good results until now this season, the car’s condition has improved a lot since we came here to Suzuka and it is now a lot faster now. For this, I am grateful not only to our team that set up the car so well but also to Lexus for developing the LEXUS RC F GT3 into such a good car, and also to [the development drivers] Yuji Tachikawa, Akira Iida and Juichi Wakasaka.”

Source. Super GT


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