The qualifying for the FUJI GT 500km RACE, Round 2 of the 2019 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway (one lap 4,563 m) in Shizuoka Prefecture on May 3. In the GT500 class, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) came from behind to win pole position (fastest qualifier) for the second straight round of the season. In the GT300 class, the No. 56 REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R Kazuki Hiramine/Sacha Fenestraz） to give NISSAN GT-Rs both poles. These two cars will start from front position on their respective class starting grids at 2:30 p.m. in the race on May 4.
In the first big race since Japan entered its new “Reiwa” Era, the second round of the 2019 SUPER GT series at Fuji Speedway, the qualifying was held under fair skies and with a clear view of Mt. Fuji. Being the middle of the 10-day Golden Week holiday, a very large number of fans showed up at the circuit from early in the morning. The SUPER GT official qualifying, it is held in a very competitive two-session “knock-out” format (Q1 and Q2) with the fastest eight qualifiers in the GT500 class moving on to Q2 (fastest 16 in GT300).
In the GT500 class Q1, the fastest time went to Kohei Hirate in the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R. Twice a GT500 champion with Lexus teams, Hirate raced last year in the GT300 class before making a new start by switching to this Nissan team. He quickly proved his prowess this time in just his second qualifying in the Nissan car. The second fastest in Q1 was a Lexus team that makes Fuji Speedway their home track, the 2017 season champion team, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 driven by Ryo Hirakawa.
In the GT500 class Q2, the hottest competition took place in the last two minutes of the session. After his teammate Tsugio Matsuda got the team to Q2 by finishing 5th fastest, Ronnie Quintarelli took the wheel of the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R for Q2 and ran an amazing time attack to record a track record of 1’26.871. In response to this, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Nick Cassidy) and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) also beat the former course record but failed to beat the time of the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R by the smallest of margins. This gave Quintarelli his second consecutive pole, following the one at the opening round at Okayama. The 2nd and 3rd place qualifiers were the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 and the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R respectively. The fastest among the Honda NSX-GT cars that conquered in the opening round was the No.16 MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Hideki Mutoh/Daisuke Nakajima) in 4th position.
In the GT300 class, the No. 56 REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R team led by Manager Masahiko Kondo, who competes with teams in both GT300 and GT500 from this season. In Q1, Sacha Fenestraz scored the second fastest time before teammate Kazuki Hiramine recorded the fastest time in Q2 to take the new team’s first class pole in only their second round. The 2nd and 3rd place qualifiers were two garage builders’ Mother Chassis cars, the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui) and the No. 5 ADVICS MACHSYAKEN MC86 MACH GO (Yuya Hiraki) respectively.
Pole Position Winner Comments
No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R
“For me, Round 2 at Fuji is a special race because so many fans come out to see us compete. So I am especially happy to have been able to win pole position here. My teammate, Tsugio Matsuda ran at a fast pace in Q1, so in Q2 I thought I had to get a time in the 1’26 range and ran hard from the start, but in truth I thought a 1’26 would be next to impossible. So when I heard that my time was in the 1’26 range, I couldn’t help but feel it was fantastic (smile).”
No. 56 REALIZE NISSAN AUTOMOBILE TECHNICAL COLLEGE GT-R
“I was able to concentrate well in Q2, and I managed to run a very good lap. I had forgotten that this is actually my second pole position, following the one in the final round of last season. Since I switched teams this year that first pole was with a different team and a different car, but this time the team has done such a good job of setting up the car. Thanks to the team’s efforts, we were able to get this pole position in just our second round competing in the GT300 class, so I am really very happy.”
Source. Super GT