The Official Qualifying for the FUJI GT 500 mile RACE, Round 5 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series was held on August 4 at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture (one lap 4,563m). In the GT500, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) won pole driven by Quintarelli. In the GT300 class, the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui/Sho Tsuboi/Tsubasa Kondo) won the class pole position.
As usual, the official qualifying was conducted in a two-session (Q1, Q2) knock-out format. Among the entries, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 suffered a bad crash in the morning practice session that damaged the car to the extent that it could not be repaired in time for the afternoon qualifying and was unable to compete. The No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT was also unable to compete in the qualifying due to engine trouble that developed shortly before its start.
The Q1 session of the GT500 class qualifying began on schedule at 2:55 in the afternoon under exceptionally hot conditions with the air temperature at 31-degrees Celsius and the track surface temperature at 44 degrees C. The cars didn’t begin to take to the track, however, until seven minutes had elapsed in the 15-minute session, and the teams didn’t begin their serious time attacks until the last minute of the session when their tires were warmed up to optimum performance. Among these attacks, it was the Tsugio Matsuda in the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R who ran what could be considered an amazing lap of 1’29.006 in the stifling heat to be the fastest in the Q1 session. The second fastest car was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) to give the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 a 1-2 finish in the session.
Third fastest was the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 driven by Kazuki Nakajima, who took the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Man in June. As for the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD LC500 (Heikki Kovalainen) currently sitting on top in the series Drivers standings and the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) currently 2nd in the standings, neither were able to qualify for Q2, finishing 11th and 9th respectively in this session.
The shorter 10-minute GT500 Q2 session got underway at 3:38. Here too, it wasn’t until the latter half of the session that the cars began to take to the track. Here again, it was the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R that had been so fast in the Q1 session that dominated the session, with Quintarelli improving on Matsuda’s Q1 time by a big margin with a time of 1’28.461, giving the team and NISSAN GT-R its first pole position of the season. Finishing 2nd in the session came the No. 24 Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R (Mitsunori Takaboshi), meaning the front line of the grid for tomorrow’s race will go to two NISSAN GT-R machines. Third place went to the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi) and 4th place to the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Satoshi Yamamoto). The best finish for the Honda NSX-GT cars was an 8th place for the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takuya Iizawa).
In the GT300 class qualifying, Sho Tsuboi in the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC recorded a time of 1’37.312 in his last timed lap to win the class pole position. Finishing 2nd was the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi), winner of the second round of the series here at Fuji in May, putting the team in good position to set a new SUPER GT record of three consecutive wins at Fuji Speedway. As for the No. 34 Modulo KENWOOD NSX GT3 that had suffered considerable car damage after being caught up in the another car’s accident in the morning official practice, repairs could not be completed in time to participate in the qualifying and the team was forced to withdraw from the race.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
“Although it was by the slightest margin over the 2nd-place car (No. 24 Forum Engineering ADVAN GT-R), I am glad that we got pole position. In Q1, Tsugio [Matsuda] had run the fastest time, it was only slightly faster than the cars from 2nd place on down, I knew I had to push hard from start to finish. I had a little time loss in sector 1 (the first third of the track) but I was able to come back strong over the rest of the course. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to get pole position in Round 2 here at Fuji earlier in the season, so I am really happy that I got the pole here today.”
No. 25 HOPPY 86MC
“This was my first pole position and also the first time I have driven in Q2, so that fact alone had me very nervous. What’s more, my teammate [Takamitsu] Matsui-san ran extremely well in Q1, so I was feeling tremendous pressure before the start of Q2. I from the morning practice I knew that our car was fast, so I was just determined to do my best. I am very glad that I was able to make the best of the car’s potential and win this pole position.”
Source. Super GT