Nissan took a 1-2-3 finish in GT500 qualifying for Sunday’s Fuji GT 300km Race, as Calsonic Team Impul secured back-to-back pole positions at Fuji Speedway courtesy of their drivers Hironobu Yasuda and Joao Paulo de Oliveira.
Yasuda and Oliveira, who haven’t forgotten the heartbreak of losing the Fuji 500km this May with a late tyre blowout, start on pole position courtesy of a gold medal-caliber lap of 1:28.458 by Oliveira – the Brazilian’s sixth career Super GT pole position, at a track where he was victorious in the Super Formula championship last month.
In a carbon copy of the front row from the Golden Week holiday, the #46 S Road Craftsports MOLA GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Katsumasa Chiyo) starts second on the grid – a Bridgestone vs Michelin front row – with Chiyo setting the fastest time in Q1, but Motoyama unable to do better than three-tenths off Oliveira’s pole-winning time.
Completing an astonishing run to third on the grid was the #1 Motul Autech GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli), which just barely nosed its way into Q1 carrying 84 kilograms of success ballast, but then a fastest final sector from Quintarelli rocketed the NISMO GT-R to a shocking third on the grid with a 1:28.997. Given the circumstances, it was a mighty result for the GT500 championship leaders.
Honda’s NSX-GTs looked more formidable this time out, led by the #17 Keihin Real Racing NSX (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure) in fourth place, just 0.013 seconds faster than the #15 Drago Modulo NSX (Hideki Mutoh/Oliver Turvey) in fifth.
Sixth would have gone to the #100 Raybrig Team Kunimitsu NSX (Naoki Yamamoto/Takuya Izawa), but race officials deemed that Izawa’s fastest lap in Q2 saw him run all four wheels off course – constituting a loss of a fastest lap and a demotion to seventh. That puts the defending Fuji 300km winners, the #24 Forum Engineering GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Masataka Yanagida), sixth on the grid to lead the Yokohama Advan brigade.
The other Yokohama runner, the #19 WedsSport Advan GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto), was eighth-quickest – but more poignantly, it was the only Lexus RC-F to make it out of Q1 on Toyota Motor Company’s “home track” – with the five Bridgestone-clad Lexus RC-Fs occupying five of the last six spots on the grid for tomorrow’s race, including the #38 ZENT Cerumo RC-F of “Fuji-meister” Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura.