Two Nissan teams with unfinished business at Fuji Speedway immediately made their intentions known by leading a GT-R 1-2 in Saturday’s opening practice for the fifth round of the Autobacs Super GT Series, the Fuji GT 300km Race.
Heading the GT500 field was the #46 S Road Craftsports MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Katsumasa Chiyo), which set the fastest time of the morning session with a lap of 1:29.468 – nearly seven-tenths slower than the fastest opening practice time from the Fuji 500km in May, but still 0.321 seconds better than the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) in second place.
A surprising “best of the rest” was the #15 Drago Modulo Honda NSX-GT (Hideki Mutoh/Oliver Turvey), which went third-quickest with a best time of 1:29.815 – just 0.026 back of the Calsonic GT-R.
The #36 au TOM’s Lexus RC-F (Daisuke Ito/Nick Cassidy) led the Lexus brigade on their “home track”, with a best lap of 1:29.863 – just one-thousandth of a second quicker than the new-look #6 Wako’s LeMans RC-F (Kazuya Oshima/Andrea Caldarelli) in fifth place.
Despite carrying 84 kilograms of success ballast and bringing out the second of two red flags in the session due to a mechanical issue at the last corner, the #1 Motul NISMO GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli) still managed the sixth-fastest time with a 1:29.971.
The first red flag was brought out when the #61 Subaru BRZ (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi) stopped five minutes into the session with a mechanical issue of its own.
Seventh in the GT500 class was the #17 Keihin Real Racing NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure), eighth-fastest was the #38 ZENT Cerumo RC-F (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura), then the two Yokohama-clad cars, the #19 WedsSport Advan RC-F (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto) in ninth, and the #24 Forum Engineering GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Masataka Yanagida) in tenth.
Pacing GT300 was the mighty #55 ARTA BMW M6 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi), the track record-holding car in GT300 posting a best time of 1:38.392 in the session and looking good for another strong result at Fuji.
Second quickest in an FIA GT3 lockout of the first four spots was the #65 LEON Cvstos Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Haruki Kurosawa/Naoya Gamou), with a 1:38.709. After that, the margins get thinner to the third-place #21 Hitotsuyama Audi R8 LMS (Tomonobu Fujii/Richard Lyons), then the #51 JMS LM Corsa Ferrari 488 (Akihiro Tsuzuki/Morio Nitta).
Best of the JAF-GT300 specification machines was the #31 apr Toyota Prius GT (Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama) in fifth place. With the two Bridgestone runners in GT300 going first and fifth, it could be a strong race ahead for the Potenza duo.
The #3 B-Max GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Jann Mardenborough) was sixth, ahead of the #2 Syntium Apple Lotus Evora (Kazuho Takahashi/Hiroki Katoh) in seventh, the #30 apr Toyota Prius (Kota Sasaki/Hiroaki Nagai) in a solid eighth, the #11 Gainer Tanax AMG-GT3 (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Bjorn Wirdheim) in ninth, and completing the top ten, the #88 ManePa Lamborghini Huracan (Manabu Orido/Kazuki Hiramine).
Amongst the notables, “Pink-zilla” – the #48 Dijon Racing GT-R (Mitsunori Takaboshi/Takayuki Aoki) was eleventh-fastest, ahead of the #61 Subaru which elevated itself to twelfth-quickest, and you’ll need to go all the way down to 19th to find the championship-leading #25 VivaC Team Samurai Toyota 86-MC (Takeshi Tsuchiya/Takamitsu Matsui).
Two cars hit trouble: The #7 BMW Team Studie M6 (Seiji Ara/Jörg Müller) never turned a competitive lap due to overheating issues, while the #108 Direction Lamborghini Huracan (Kyosuke Mineo/Jono Lester) never got out of its garage with what Lester described as a “serious issue” with the car – so serious that it may put the car’s future participation this weekend in doubt, and thus put the Kiwi’s debut race on ice.