Honda swept the top three positions in qualifying for this weekend’s penultimate SUPER GT round of the season at Motegi, as Takuya Izawa delivered Nakajima Racing a second pole of 2020.
Hiroki Otsu had topped Q1 at the wheel of Nakajima’s Dunlop-shod #64 Honda NSX-GT with a time of 1m36.368s, and teammate Izawa narrowly bettered that with a 1m36.140s – enough for the top spot by a margin of nearly half a second.
The ARTA squad that has claimed the last two poles was second in the hands of Nirei Fukuzumi, 0.453s adrift, while Tadasuke Makino was third-fastest in the Kunimitsu Honda, which has considerably more success ballast than the two cars ahead of it with a 38kg handicap.
Makino’s performance was made all the more impressive by the fact he didn’t turn any laps in practice after a clutch problem struck the #100 NSX-GT, causing the #100 machine to grind to a halt and bringing out the red flags (pictured below).
#100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Behind the leading trio, Ronnie Quintarelli qualified the championship-contending NISMO Nissan GT-R (carrying 45kg) fourth, and was the last driver to get within a second of Izawa.
Leading the Toyota charge was Yuji Kunimoto, fifth-fastest in the Yokohama-shod Bandoh GR Supra, ahead of Yuji Tachikawa in the top Bridgestone Toyota, the #38 Cerumo car.
Completing the Q2 order were Sacha Fenestraz in the #36 TOM’S Toyota, also carrying 45kg of ballast, and the NDDP/B-Max Nissan of Kohei Hirate.
Best of the cars to drop out in Q1 was the championship-leading #14 Cerumo Toyota (47kg) of Sho Tsuboi, meaning he and Kazuya Oshima will start ninth ahead of Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi in the Real Racing Honda NSX-GT (45kg).
Kenta Yamashita meanwhile could only manage 13th on his first qualifying outing standing in for the absent Nick Cassidy at the wheel of the #37 TOM’S GR Supra (46kg).
GT300: Subaru grabs its first pole of 2020
The works-backed R&D Sport Subaru BRZ of Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi claimed the vital bonus point for pole in the GT300 class.
#61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Despite carrying 51kg of success ballast, Iguchi topped his Q1 group and Yamauchi followed that up with a 1m46.200s effort in Q2 to take Subaru’s first pole of the season and narrowing the gap to the head of the standings to 16 points.
Hironobu Yasuda had gone even faster than that in the second Q1 group, setting a 1m46.157s at the wheel of the #11 Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 (62kg). But teammate Katsuyuki Hiranaka couldn’t match that pace, setting a 1m46.433s to slot in third behind the ballast-free #244 Max Racing Lexus RC F of Rintaro Kubo.
In his first SUPER GT qualifying session, ex-Formula 2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita put the #55 ARTA Honda NSX GT3 (57kg) 12th on the grid, 1.4s off the pace.
The points-leading LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (77kg) was knocked out in Q1 and will start Sunday’s race down in 20th on the grid, one place ahead of the race winner last time out, the Team Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (44kg).
Results to follow
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