Takamitsu Matsui broke the old track record by nearly 1.7 seconds to claim the VivaC Team Samurai Toyota 86’s second pole position of the 2016 Autobacs Super GT Series.
His best lap aboard the #25 VivaC 86 MC, a new record time of 1:17.493, was a half-second faster than that of Koki Saga in the #31 Toyota Prius GT of apr Racing, who starts second as JAF-GT300 specification cars lock down the first two rows of the GT300 grid.
The other remarkable story comes from the Subaru R&D Sport team, who repaired their #61 Subaru BRZ just in time to qualify third-fastest, with Takuto Iguchi atoning for his practice crash with the third-fastest time in Q1, and Hideki Yamauchi finishing the comeback with another P3 lap in Q2.Yuhki Nakayama qualified fourth in the #18 Upgarage 86 MC, completing the JAF GT300/MC lockout of rows one and two.
The best of the FIA GT3 cars was the #11 Gainer Tanax AMG – fifth-fastest in the hands of Katsuyuki Hiranaka. The #55 ARTA BMW M6 – one of the heavier cars in the field – did well to qualify 6th thanks to great work from Takashi Kobayashi in Q1, and Shinichi Takagi in Q2. Seventh was Tomonobu Fujii in the #21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8, with Nobuteru Taniguchi eighth-fastest in the #4 GSR Hatsune Miku AMG.
It’ll be an all-Italian fifth row, Manabu Orido qualifying ninth in the #88 ManePa Lamborghini, and Akihiro Tsuzuki going tenth-quickest in the #51 JMS LM Corsa Ferrari 488.
Hiroki Katoh was second-quickest in Q1 in the #2 Syntium Apple Lotus Evora, but Kazuho Takahashi could do no better than eleventh in Q2.
Remarkably glad to make it to Q2 were three smaller teams. Returning former champions Takayuki Aoki and Masami Kageyama qualified the #48 Dijon GT-R, and the #5 Mach 86 MC, quick enough in Q1 to ensure a start on row seven for tomorrow’s race. Rookie Shota Kiyohara was twelfth-fastest in Q1, for the #360 RunUp & DOES GT-R of Tomei Sports – they’ll start 12th.
Ryuichiro Tomita just missed the cut in the #0 Gainer GT-R (15th), as did the other BMW of Jörg Müller for BMW Team Studie (17th). Naoya Yamano’s impressive practice form went for naught as the #33 Excellence Porsche was only 19th fastest.
Championship co-leader Kazuki Hoshino could do no better than a woeful 21st in the #3 B-Max NDDP GT-R, one spot behind the other race winner, Haruki Kurosawa, in the #65 Leon AMG (20th).
One last note about Matsui’s pole-winning lap: It was four-tenths quicker than Juichi Wakisaka’s GT500 pole winning time of 1:17.805 in 2003. The speed of the GT300 class of 2016 is downright ridiculous in the best possible way.