The Super GT Round 6 Qualifying was held at Sportsland SUGO in Miyagi Prefecture on September 19 where the Nissan GT-R driven by Satoshi Motoyama and Masataka Yanagida grabbed the GT500 Class pole. Meanwhile, the Honda CR-Z grabbed the GT300 class pole.
With only three more races left, this year’s Super GT season will soon end. The battle for the title is also heating up. The sixth round is the last round of the series where teams will have 2kgs of weight assigned for each driver’s point earned. Meanwhile, 1kg will be assigned for each driver’s point earned in the seventh round; there will be no weight handicap assigned in the eighth round. Therefore, the machines have different “conditions” from its past performances this season. Hence, it is said that it will be difficult for teams at the top to demonstrate their prowess at this round.
The weather on the qualifying day at SUGO was sunny and occasionally cloudy. The track was still a bit wet at the start of the morning practice because of the previous day’s rain, but the track was completely dry when the qualifying race began in the afternoon. The two-session knockout system of the qualifying rounds had 15 entries in the GT500 class and 27 entries (two were unable to participate in the qualifying race) in the GT300 class competing for the pole position.
In the GT500 class, if the weight handicap exceeds 50kg, the power will be limited by a fuel restrictor equivalent to 50kg. Out of the 15 entries in the GT500 class, seven have this fuel restrictor. The combat force of the machines will be affected because of this fuel restrictor. However, just like the last season, the impression so far is that the Nissan GT-Rs are in excellent condition this season.
The points leader #12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda and J.P.L.De Oliveira, Bridgestone tires) has a weight handicap of 102kg. Since the maximum weight handicap is 100kg, the #12 GT-R has a fuel restrictor equivalent to 50kg plus the actual 50kg weight imposed to it.
The #46 S Road MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama & Masataka Yanagida, Michelin tires) grabbed the pole in the GT500 class. Motoyama commented: “I felt good during the morning practice run. The car moved according to my wishes.” Yanagida made a getaway in the Q1 and Motoyama followed that up in the Q2 session with a new record time of 1’11.607, earning them the pole position. Motoyama commented: “The car and tires were excellent since morning, so we spent the day with ease. We were able to attack with all our might. We were able to grab the pole because of our team’s efforts.”
Currently ranked sixth, the #46 GT-R has 30 points. Hence, it has a weight handicap of 10kg actual weight plus a fuel restrictor equivalent to 50kg. On SUGO track, it seems that the 10kg actual weight imposed worked in favor of the #46 GT-R. Motoyama and Yanagida also talked about that. Nonetheless, both drivers raced excellently. That, partnered with a machine outfitted with Michelin tires earned them the pole. You can really feel the entirety of their team’s power with their fast getaway. The #46 GT-R will be aiming for their second victory this season at tomorrow’s finals.
Honda machines qualified second and third. The #100 RAYBRIG NSX CONCEPT-GT (Naoki Yamamoto & Takuya Izawa, Bridgestone tires) and the #64 Epson NSX CONCEPT-GT (Daisuke Nakajima & Bertrand Baguette, Dunlop tires) ranked second and third respectively. Qualifying fourth is the #37 KeePer TOM’S RC F (Andrea Caldarelli & Ryo Hirakawa, Bridgestone tires), making it the fastest Lexus. Currently ranked fifth, the #37 has an actual 18kg weight handicap and they were able to leverage this relatively lighter handicap.
Qualifying fifth and sixth are the #24 D’station ADVAN GT-R (Daiki Sasaki & Michael Krumm, Yokohama tires) and the #6 ENEOS SUSTINA RC F (Kazuya Oshima & Yuji Kunimoto, Bridgestone tires) respectively.
As expected, the top four machines ranked 11th to 14th and failed to advance to the Q2 session because of their heavier weight handicaps that ranged between 28 to 50kg. The points leader #12 GT-R qualified 14th. Listed below are the machines that qualified 11th to 13th with their respective driver’s points.
11th qualifier: #36 PETRONAS TOMâ€™S RC F (Daisuke Ito & James Rossiter, Bridgestone tires) – 43 points
12th qualifier: MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda & Ronnie Quintarelli, Michelin tires) – 39 points
13th qualifier: #38 ZENT CERUMO RC F (Yuji Tachikawa & Hiroaki Ishiura, Bridgestone tires) – 44 points
The #36 RC F received a penalty because radix was used on their engine; hence, they will be imposed with a 10-second stop after the start of the finals.
In the GT300 class, the attention was focused on the #10 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Andre Couto & Ryuichiro Tomita, Dunlop tires), who has demonstrated overwhelming strength this season. Currently, the driver’s points leader Couto has 69 points, giving him a 31-point lead over the second placer. There are still two more races left this season, and depending on the present results, it is likely that he will get the driver’s title, but the weight handicap that will be imposed on his machine is calculated to be 138kg. In the GT300, even if racers exceed 50kg, the maximum weight handicap is 100kg. Nevertheless, they could go fast. If so, you will see the improvement of the drivers and the team, but the combination of the GT-R and Dunlop tires will become incredible.
Sure enough, the #10 GT-R driven by Couto wonderfully made it past the Q1 session. Tomita, who drove the #10 GT-R in the Q2 session, earned the 8th position on the grid. Getting the 100kg weight handicap in the qualifying was great. This is the best outcome for the #10 GT-R compared to current second placer in the ranking, the #3 B-MAX NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino & Mitsunori Takaboshi, Yokohama tires), who qualified 15th. That trend will also be observed in the finals.
The #55 ARTA CR-Z GT (Shinichi Takagi & Takashi Kobayashi, Bridgestone tires) grabbed the GT300 class pole. Takagi and Kobayashi nabbed their second pole this season (the first one was the Round 4 at Fuji). Just like the GT500 pole winners, they have attributed the grabbing of the pole to the excellent craftsmanship of the machine, the tires, and the efforts exerted by their team. In the finals tomorrow, aside from them battling for the title, this is where they want to achieve a pole-to-checkers-victory after two rounds.
The list below shows the second to sixth qualifiers in the GT300 class.
2nd place: #25 VivaC 86 MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya & Takamitsu Matsui, Yokohama tires)
3rd place: #31 TOYOTA PRIUS apr GT (Koki Saga & Yuichi Nakayama, Bridgestone tires)
4th place: #18 UPGARAGE BANDOH 86 (Yuki Nakayama & Kota Sasaki, Yokohama tires)
5th place: #88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Manabu Orido & Kazuki Hiramine, Yokohama tires)
6th place: #77 K’s Frontier Direction 458 (Naoki Yokomizo & Kyosuke Mineo, Yokohama tires)
Tomorrow, September 20, will be the final race. It’s a 300km race with 81 laps. The finals is scheduled to start at 14:00.
(Translated by Katherine N. Bantiles)