The qualifying for the Takanokono Hotel FUJI GT 300km RACE, 8th and final round of the 2020 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture on November 28 (Sat). In the GT500 class, the pole position was taken by Yamashita in the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa/Kenta Yamashita). In the GT300 class, Kawaii in the SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT’s (Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) that took his first pole position. These two cars will start tomorrow’s race from the front position in their respective class grids at 13:00.
This Round 8 at Fuji Speedway is the final round of this year’s SUPER GT series that began here at Fuji on July 18 and 19. This season comes down to a tight race for the series title with no less than ten GT500 teams having a shot at the title in this final round. So, it is no wonder that lots of fans turned out at the circuit to see the action. This day was blessed with fine weather and dry track conditions, and when the qualifying started at just after 13:00, the air temperature stood at 13-degrees C. and the track surface temperature at 17 degrees.
The 10-minute GT500 class Q1 session began at 13:48. Of the 15 cars competing, the top eight would qualify to Q2. Usually, the cars would spend the first few minutes of the session waiting until the track condition look good before setting out from the pits, but due to the low track surface temperature this day, the cars began taking to the track as soon as the course opened. After the cars’ tires were warmed well, they began making their fastest time attacks in the last minute of the session. It was here that the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa) recorded the top time of 1’26.722 to qualify on to Q2. And, the next three cars in the order were all TOYOTA GR Supra GT500s, for a clean sweep of the top four. Meanwhile, the current ranking leader, the No. 17 KEIHIN NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette) and the winner of the previous round, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri) unexpectedly failed to qualify for Q2.
In the 10-minute Q2 session to decide the pole position, the serious time attacks took place in the final minute of the session as they had in Q1. Here, it was Kenta Yamashita in the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra who beat the former course record (1’26.433) with a lap of 1’26.386 to grab pole position. This gave teammate Hirakawa one series point that boosted him to top position in the series standings going into tomorrow’s race.
The 2nd and 3rd qualifiers were the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Heikki Kovalainen/Yuichi Nakayama) and the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Sacha Fenestraz) respectively. The 4th-place qualifier was also a GR Supra, giving the Toyota cars another sweep of the top four. Qualifying 5th was the No. 64 Modulo NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa/Hiroki Otsu), while 6th place went to the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli).
The GT300 class Q1 was run in two separate groups (A and B), in which the No. 11 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Katsuyuki Hiranaka) topped Group A and the No. 6 ADVICS muta MC86 (Ryohei Sakaguchi) ran the top time in Group B. In the ensuing Q2 session, the top eight cars from each group competed, for a total of 16 cars, six of which would succeed in beating the former course record (1’35.707) in the hotly contested session. Of these, it was rookie Kenta Kawaai in the No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT who ran the top time of 1’34.665 to take his personal first pole position. The ranking leader, the No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) managed to qualify in 7th position and the 2nd-ranked No. 65 LEON PYRAMID AMG (Naoya Gamou/Togo Suganami) qualified in 5th position.
Pole Winner Comments
No.37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra
“Before the qualifying, we didn’t know much about (the competitors’) conditions, and since we knew our chances of clearing Q1 might be slim, we had to ask [Ryo] Hirakawa-san to run in Q1 for us. In the previous round at Motegi, I had failed to clear Q1, which left me in sort of a trauma (wry smile). But it turned out the Hirakawa-san finished top of his Q1, and that put even more pressure on me to do well in Q2. But we had such a good match between the car set-up and the tires, and I am glad to have been able to make the best of that advantage to win pole position.”
No. 52 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT
“I was fortunate to be able to make use of other cars’ slipstream with good timing, but it was also having this car that the team had set up so well that I was able to run my attacks with confidence. And all this enabled me to leave a new course record. At least this pole position has given us one more series point, but we are going to have to win tomorrows race in order to have a chance of getting the series title, so now I want to work with [Hiroki] Yoshida-san and the team to prepare for the race.”
Source. Super GT