The qualifying for the Takanoko Hotel SUZUKA GT 300km RACE, Round 3 of the 2022 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Suzuka Circuit (one lap: 5,807 m) in Mie Prefecture on May 28 (Sat). In the GT500 class, Kunimoto in the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Yuji Kunimoto/Sena Sakaguchi) ran a Suzuka course record to take the team’s first pole position in ten years of GT500 class competition. In the GT300 class, Kondo in the No. 7 Studie BMW M4 (Seiji Ara/Tsubasa Kondo) gave the team their first class pole.
On this day at Suzuka, the air temperature of 28-degrees Celsius was hotter than could normally be expected in May. Due to the delay in the support race held just prior, the GT500 class Q1 session started 10 minutes later than scheduled at 3:38 in the afternoon. The starting field was down to 14 cars due to the absence of the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO GR Supra that had developed machine trouble in the morning’s official practice. In the last three minutes of the session, the cars began to improve on their pace and run their time attacks on their fourth and fifth laps on the track. Showing amazing speed here was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z (Katsumasa Chiyo) that had suffered a big crash three weeks earlier in the previous Round 2 and came to this round at Suzuka with a rebuilt car. It’s time of 1’44.230 was a new Suzuka course record, and although a number of other cars were able to run in the 1’44 range, the closest competitor, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra (Yuhi Sekiguchi) in 2nd position was a 0.6 sec. back with a time of 1’44.811. This meant that car No. 3 finished with the top time in Q1. Among the Honda NSX-GT cars, the No. 17 Astemo NSX-GT (Kodai Tsukakoshi) was fastest in 4th position. In the GT500 class Q2 competed by the eight fastest cars from Q1, once again the time attacks came down to the last two minutes in the session. Here again it was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL Z (Mitsunori Takaboshi) that was quick to show its speed and record a top time of 1’44.425, just short of that in Q1. And when no other cars seemed able to beat this, it began to look as if No. 3 would win Q2 as well. But just before the checkered flag was shown, the pole sitter from the previous round, the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra with Yuji Kunimoto now at the wheel, came home with a time of 1’44.112 to beat the course record set in Q1 and take pole position. Although unable to beat this time, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ritomo Miyata) came close to take 2nd position with a time of 1’44.269. This gave the TOYOTA GR Supra GT500, which until now had struggled at Suzuka, an impressive 1-2 finish in the qualifying. Finishing in 3rd position came the Nissan Z GT500 car No. 3. And in 4th position came a Honda NSX-GT car, the No. 16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Toshiki Oyu).
The GT300 Q1 sessions were run in two groups, A and B, divided based on team rankings as of the previous round. In Group A, the fastest qualifier was the No. 7 Studie BMW M4 (Seiji Ara), while in Group B the fastest time went to the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Takuto Iguchi). In Q2, competed by the top eight cars from groups A and B for a total of 16 cars, it was Okusa in the No. 10 TANAX GAINER GT-R (Ryuichiro Tomita/Riki Okusa) who recorded the fastest time. But in the post-qualifying car inspection, a violation in machine height was found, causing the team’s time to be disqualified. This moved the car with the 2nd fastest time, the time run by Tsubasa Kondo in the No. 7 Studie BMW M4, up to win the team’s first ever pole position.
Pole Winner Comments
No.19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra
“It certainly took us a long time to get this (first pole position) (laughs), and it was tough getting it. The car was very good, and it handled like an extension of my arms and legs. Even when the car was sliding there was a sense of stability. And since the car was so good, I was able to make a perfect time attack.”
Source. Super GT