Suzuka Test Session 1 – Three makes split top three

Nissan, Lexus, and Honda finished 1-2-3 in the first of two test sessions on Friday at Suzuka Circuit, as the Super GT teams and drivers prepare for the Suzuka 1000km.

Satoshi Motoyama recorded the fastest lap of the session, a 1:48.963 time around the fabled 5.807 kilometer circuit in the number 46 S Road Craftsports MOLA GT-R. Michelin have had the dominant tyre in GT500 all season, and their strength clearly showed on short and long-run pace.

Second quickest was the number 38 ZENT Cerumo RC-F of Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura, with a best lap of 1:49.129 – less than two-tenths off the S Road GT-R, as the fastest car on Bridgestone Potenza tyres.

Honda are hoping for a resurgent turn of form in Super GT, and at their home track, they were buoyed by a respectable third-place effort by the number 100 Raybrig NSX of Team Kunimitsu (Naoki Yamamoto / Takuya Izawa), who turned in a 1:49.250 to lead the Honda crew.

Also on the superior Michelin tyres, the championship-leading Motul NISMO GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli went fourth-quickest, though it is not known how much ballast the Motul GT-R was carrying. It will race at Sugo with 80 kilograms of success ballast.

The top Yokohama runner was the WedsSport Bandoh RC-F of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Yuji Kunimoto in 9th, with the sole Dunlop-clad car, the EPSON Nakajima Racing NSX (Daisuke Nakajima/Bertrand Baguette) in 14th.

In GT300, the supreme downforce of the JAF GT300 specification cars gave them four of the top five places in the first session.

Aiming to win Suzuka after their humiliating loss last year, the number 2 Syntium Lotus Evora of Cars Tokai Dream28 (Kazuho Takahashi/Hiroki Katoh/Tadasuke Makino) recorded the fastest time in GT300 with a 1:58.411 set by Katoh in the opening minutes – just .163 seconds off his pole-winning lap time from last year, and seven-tenths quicker than the next car.

It was a 1-2 finish for Mother Chassis platform cars, as the number 25 VivaC Team Samurai Toyota 86 (Takeshi Tsuchiya/ Takamitsu Matsui / Kenta Yamashita) went second-quickest with a best of 1:59.125. The cornering speed of both the Mooncraft-built Lotus and the Dome-built Toyota 86 was a major advantage around Suzuka’s many high-speed turns.

The number 31 Toyota Prius GT of Koki Saga and Yuichi Nakayama was third quickest, just 0.035 seconds behind the VivaC 86. The Prius was also the fastest of the two Bridgestone cars in GT300 – a much-needed result after a shocking start to 2016.

The top FIA GT3 car in the field was the ManePa Lamborghini Huracan of JLOC, who brought only one car to the test – and finished fourth-fastest with Manabu Orido and Kazuki Hiramine driving.

Fastest of the Dunlop-tyred cars was another JAF GT300 car, the Subaru BRZ of Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi, which has an exceptional track record at this race. Fifth-fastest was a good result for the crew in blue.

Two red flags momentarily stopped the session. The first came when Naoki Yokomizo spun the #108 Direction Lamborghini into the gravel at turn 2 – despite that, they were a surprisingly good ninth-fastest. The second came as the #26 Taisan SARD Audi R8 (Shogo Mitsuyama/Yuya Motojima/Shinji Nakano) stopped in the final minutes at 130R with an unknown issue.

Image Credit: Ryuji Hirano, AUTOSPORTweb

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