The official qualifying for the AUTOPOLIS GT 300 km, Round 7 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the AUTOPOLIS circuit (lap = 4,674 m) in Oita Pref. on October 20. In the GT500 class, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT driven by Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa ran a course record to win pole position for the second time this season following the one at Round 3 at Suzuka. In the GT300 class, the AUTOPOLIS pole position went to the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC driven by Takamitsu Matsui and Sho Tsuboi for the second consecutive year.
Held in May last year as Round 3, this time the race is held as Round 7, the second to the last race of the season. In the morning, the skies were cloudy and the air chilly at AUTPOLIS, but by noontime the temperature had risen to 15-degrees C. to make it good conditions for some fast times.
The qualifying sessions to determine the starting grids for tomorrow’s race began at 2:30 in the afternoon. After the GT300 class Q1 session, the GT500 class Q1was run. In order to concentrate their time attacks in the last two minutes of the 15-minute GT500 class Q1 session, the teams remained in their pits until about 8 minutes remained in the session before taking to the track. With 3 minutes remaining, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT driven by former F1 world champion Jenson Button and the other Honda NSX-GT cars began to made all-out attacks. The No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Takashi Kogure) ran a time of 1’32.650 to beat the old course record (1’32.835). In 2nd position was the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa) and taking 3rd position was last year’s GT500 champion team, the No. 1 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa). Meanwhile, among the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 cars, the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) was fastest in 11th position, meaning that all four Nissan cars failed to qualify to Q2.
In the 10-minute GT500 class Q2, all eight cars that had made the cut-off in Q1 once again waited until 8 minutes remained in the session before taking to the track. It was in the closing minutes of the session that they began to make their serious time attacks. Here again, it was the NSX-GT that showed their speed. The No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT bettered the course record that Nojiri had set in Q1 by brining that time down to with a time 1’31.441 that gave the team its second pole position of the season following Round 3 at Suzuka and its fourth overall.
Second and third positions went to the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi) and the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto), giving the NSX-GT a sweep of the top three places. Taking the 4th spot was last year’s AUTOPOLIS winner, the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi).
In the GT300 class, GT rookie Tomita in the No. 60 SYNTIUM LMcorsa RC F GT3 (Daiki Yoshimoto/Ritomo Miyata) recorded the fastest time in class. However, in Q2, it was Tsuboi in the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui/Sho Tsuboi) who set a course record of 1’42.498 to take pole position. Car No. 25 had also taken pole position at last year’s AUTOPOLIS with a course record, making it a second consecutive pole here. Qualifying in 2nd position was the No. 10 GAINER TANAX triple a GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Hiroki Yoshida), and taking 3rd position was the Fukuoka-based No. 5 MACH SHAKEN MC86 Y’s distraction (Natsu Sakaguchi/Yuya Hiraki).
Pole Position winner comments
No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT
“In the morning free practice, [Takuya] Izawa-san had recorded the fastest time and shown that the condition of the car was really good. In the afternoon’s Q1 session he had also run a fast time (2nd) to get us into Q2. What’s more, he also gave us some good information for adjusting the car’s settings further to add the final touch (laughs). Of course, I am thankful to the team also for preparing the car so well.”
No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC
“I think the biggest reason we got this pole position is the way the team tuned the car so perfectly. The car was really great. All I had to do was bring out that great potential of the car. And, despite the difficult developments in Q1, [Takamitsu] Matsui-san helped a lot by getting us through Q1. Anyway, it is a pole position that the whole team won together. So, I am grateful to Matsui-san and the entire team.”
Source. Super GT