The official qualifying for the 2022 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, the “OKAYAMA GT 300km RACE,” was held on April 16th at Okayama International Circuit (one lap 3.703 km) in Okayama Prefecture. In the SUPER GT qualifying run in a knock-out style format, the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima/Kenta Yamashita) won pole position in the GT500 class. In the GT300 class, the 2021 season champions, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi), qualified 1st in their class.
The circuit was blessed with fair skies and the air temperature stood at 17 degrees Celsius. The Q1 session of the GT500 class that started from 2:46 in the afternoon. When the cars finished the warmup lap, the No.16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Toshiki Oyu) was struck with machine trouble that forced it to return to the pit, and it was unable to run after that. This left the remaining 14 cars in the class to begin their time attacks.
The first car to post a time attack was the No.19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Sena Sakaguchi), with a lap time of 1’17.201. After that, there was no car that could top that time before the checkered flag signaled the final lap. At this point it looked as if car No. 19 would come out of the session with the top time, but on the last lap the No. 36 au TOM’S GR Supra (Sho Tsuboi) recorded a time of 1’17.177 to beat the top time by a slim margin. The top four times in the Q1 session all went to TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 cars, while the best finish for the newly debuting Nissan Z GT500 cars was a 5th position by the No. 24 Realize corporation ADVAN Z (Daiki Sasaki). The best finish by a Honda NSX-GT car was that of the No. 100 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) in 6th place.
Of the eight cars that made it through Q1 to compete in Q2, it was the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Yuji Kunimoto) that was first to record a target time of 1’17.572. Just after that, the No. 100 STANLEY NSX-GT (Tadasuke Makino) recorded a time of 1’17.573 to move into 2nd position. But the next to record a time far better that those two was the No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra (Kazuya Oshima) with an impressive lap of 1’17.251 to take the top spot. On his second flying lap, Makino in car No. 100 improved on his best time but fell short of the top with a time of 1’17.544 to hold 2nd position. Then, in the checkered flag lap the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Yuichi Nakayama) recorded a time of 1’17.387 to take 2nd spot away from the NSX-GT. With this, the GR Supra took the front row of the starting grid for second year in a row. The pole-winning No. 14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra was the winner of last year’s race at Okayama, and this pole put it in the best positions possible to make it two-straight wins ay Okayama. Qualifying in 3rd position was the No. 100 NSX-GT car. As for the new Z machine, it finished its debut qualifying with a best finish by the No. 24 Realize corporation ADVAN Z in 5th position.
The GT300 class Q1 session was divided into two groups, A and B, based on last season’s rankings, and the fastest in group A was the No. 9 PACIFIC hololive NAC Ferrari (Kei Cozzolino), while fastest in group B was the No. 60 SAITAMATOYOPET GB GR Supra GT (Kohta Kawaai). In Q2, competed by the top eight qualifiers of the two groups, for a total of 16 cars, it was last year’s champions team, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT’s Hideki Yamauchi that scored a course record time of 1’24.286 to claim the GT300 class pole position.
Pole Position winner comments
No.14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra
“I feel so great! (laughs). It’s still a new team but everyone is giving their all and we have been progressing at a very fast pace and seeing how hard they are all working made me want to answer with a good result in return. I guess I was pushing too hard and there were things like a half-spin out during one of my attack laps, but I’m really glad that in the end we got the pole position. Well, it’s good that I got the PP, but it wasn’t a perfect lap. Last year we won, but I nearly had a heart attack [when the opposition was closing in on Yamashita at the end], so this time I want to turn the wheel over to Yamashita-san with a lead that will let me watch in ease as he runs on to the win (laughs). ”
No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
“As we see from the fact that the top three finishers in Q2 were all running on Dunlop tires, it is clear that the tires really performed well. This year we have new team engineer and we have worked hard to communicate well with them. Considering this, I am very happy that we were able to start the first round of the series with such a good result. To tell the truth, we didn’t expect to get such a good lap time as this, so it surprised me. This time was made possible by the team and the Dunlop people. And I want to keep up this speed we have shown today and get a good start to the season tomorrow.”
Source. Super GT