The official qualifying for the AUTOPOLIS GT 300 km RACE, Round 6 of the 2019 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the AUTOPOLIS Circuit (lap = 4.674 km) in Oita Pref. on September 7. In the GT500 class, the No. driven by Koudai Tsukakoshi and Bertrand Baguette ran the fastest times in both Q1 and Q2 to win pole position. In the GT300 class, the AUTOPOLIS pole position went to the No. 25 VivaC 86 MC for the third consecutive year driven this time by Takamitsu Matsui and Kimiya Sato.
Last season, this race had been run in October as Round 7 of the series, but this year it was run as Round 6 in the beginning of September. Although there had been worries about the weather due to the passing Typhoon No. 13 near Kyushu, this qualifying day was cloudy but with no fear of rain, while the air temperature stayed at a rather comfortable 28-degrees Celsius.
The Official Qualifying to decide the starting grid for Sunday’s race began at 2:30 in the afternoon with the GT300 class Q1 session. The 15-minute GT500 class Q1 session began after that at 2:50, in which the top eight qualifiers would move on to Q2. In order to run their best time attacks in the last one or two minutes of the session, most of the GT500 class teams had their cars wait in the pit until about seven minutes remained in the session. In this session, the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette) that had scored the fastest time in the morning’s practice session ran the fastest time again with a 1’34.415. Following in the next two spots were the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Hiroaki Ishiura) and the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Kazuki Nakajima). The current leader in the Drivers ranking, the No. 6 WAKO’S 4CR LC500 (Kenta Yamashita), understandably had a tough time carrying its 100 kg of handicap weights and could only manage to finish in 14th position and thus failed to qualify for Q2.
In the 10-minute Q2 session for the top eight qualifiers, that teams made their serious time attacks in the last two minutes of the session, as in Q1. In the end, it was Koudai Tsukakoshi in the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT that ran one fantastic attack of 1’33.262 to lead the session. The second fastest time went to the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri/Takuya Izawa) who are always strong at AUTOPOLIS, thus giving the Honda NSX-GT a 1-2 finish in the qualifying. The 3rd fastest time went to the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 team No. 24 REALIZE CORPORATION ADVAN GT-R (Mitsunori Takaboshi/Jann Mardenborough) with Mardenborough driving in Q2. The fastest qualifier among the LEXUS LC500 cars was the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi) in 4th position.
In the GT300 class, it was Katoh in the No. 2 SYNTIUM Apple LOTUS (Kazuho Takahashi/Hiroki Katoh) who followed up on the team’s fastest time in the morning’s practice to give the time the fastest time in Q1. But in Q2 it was Matsui in the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui and Kimiya Sato) who recorded the fastest time of 1’44.423 to give the team their third consecutive pole position at AUTOPOLIS. Finishing 2nd fastest by a mere 0.097 sec. was the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB MARK X M (Shigekazu Wakizaka/Hiroki Yoshida), while 3rd position went to the No. 7 D’station Vantage GT3 (Tomonobu Fujii/Joao Paulo de Oliveira).
Pole position Winner Comments
No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT [GT500]
“In Q1, Baguette ran a good attack that showed us the high potential of our machine. So all I had to do was put my trust in the machine, and I was really confident as I made my attack. The potential of the NSX-GT was very high, and since we were carrying only a light load of 20 kg in handicap weight, so the conditions really favored us and I was able to take advantage of that. I think we have a great flow going for tomorrow’s race, so I want to give it my all.”
No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC [GT300]
“I am very happy to have won pole position, but in the official practice we had trouble (with the ABS), and it was the great job or mechanics did to fix the problem in time for the qualifying that we owe this pole position to. I think that was the whole story today. The result of today’s qualifying only gives us a start at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s race, and our first priority will be to get to the end and take the checkered flag in as high a position as we can.”
Source. Super GT