Suzuka Test Session 2 – Highs and lows for Honda

Friday’s afternoon test session for the Super GT Series in Suzuka Circuit saw one Honda NSX Concept-GT record the fastest time of the day, and another NSX wiped out at the first corner.

The number 15 Drago Modulo NSX of Hideki Mutoh and Oliver Turvey topped the afternoon session, as Mutoh put in a scorching lap of 1:48.539 in the final ten minutes of the session. The former IndyCar star was one of several drivers to set their fastest laps in the final ten minutes of the test session, which were allocated entirely to the GT500 cars.

Second-quickest was the Yokohama-clad number 24 Forum Engineering Nissan GT-R of Kondo Racing, whose quickest lap came via Daiki Sasaki with a 1:48.755 that very briefly looked set to be the fastest time of the afternoon. The short-run pace in the Yokohama Advan tyres continues to impress.

Once again, the three makes in GT500 split the top three, as the number 6 Wako’s LeMans Lexus RC-F of Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli went third-fastest, with a best time of 1:48.980. They led two more Lexus RC-Fs, the ZENT Cerumo RC-F (Yuji Tachikawa / Hiroaki Ishiura) in fourth, and the au TOM’s RC-F (Daisuke Ito / Nick Cassidy) in fifth.

The Michelin-clad Nissan teams appeared to focus on their long-run pace, with the S Road MOLA GT-R of Satoshi Motoyama and Katsumasa Chiyo finishing eighth-fastest after topping the morning session. They finished just ahead of the Motul NISMO GT-R of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli in ninth.

Despite the great lap from Mutoh, Honda also experienced a sizeable low in the afternoon session when Bertrand Baguette crashed at the wheel of his EPSON Nakajima Racing NSX at the end of the first hour of testing. From photographic evidence, it appears as if Baguette could not slow the car down enough through turns 1 and 2, ran through the asphalt and gravel run-offs, and impacted the tyre barriers with minor damage. Baguette was uninjured, but the team would not take further part.

GT300 was once again a test of superiority from the JAF GT300 machines, locking out the top three places in the timesheets. Leading the way was the number 31 apr Toyota Prius GT of Koki Saga and Yuichi Nakayama. A 1:58.801 was the fastest time of the session for the Bridgestone-equipped Prius, but not enough to beat the 1:58.411 set by the Syntium Lotus Evora team in the morning session.

The Lotus of Kazuho Takahashi, Hiroki Katoh, and young Tadasuke Makino was second-quickest in the afternoon, despite bringing out the second red flag of the session after the car stopped at the entrance to the Casio Triangle chicane. Their best time was a 1:59.120 from the 19-year-old Makino, making his presence immediately felt within the team.

They had a huge gap of 0.8 seconds to the third-placed Upgarage Toyota 86 of Yuhki Nakayama and Shinnosuke Yamada, which continues to place well in recent tests.

The best FIA GT3 car was the B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R of championship leaders Kazuki Hoshino and Jann Mardenborough, which went fourth-quickest, ahead of the Hitotsuyama Audi R8 (Richard Lyons / Tomonobu Fujii) in fifth as the best Dunlop car in GT300.


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