VivaC 86 takes back-to-back Thailand poles

At the site of the #25 VivaC Dome/Toyota 86 MC’s very first pole position, Takamitsu Matsui was driving in his own post code as he took GT300 class pole position for the Buriram Super GT Race in Thailand, the third pole position of the year for VivaC Team Samurai.

Matsui set a new GT300 lap record with his best lap of 1:32.102 in the second phase of qualifying, beating the next-fastest car by an impressive margin of 0.695 seconds, and the old lap record, held by current World Endurance Championship star Alexandre Imperatori, by 1.4 seconds.

“The car’s condition was good from the official practice,” said Matsui, “and considering the conditions, that meant you would have to say that in fact it was really good!”

This is Matsui’s second career pole-winning lap, his first coming this July at Sportsland Sugo, but he knows that the job isn’t finished yet for Sunday’s race.

“As a driver, I’m glad that I got pole position, but we haven’t been able to translate that into a win yet. So, I just simply want us to win the race tomorrow, no matter what. I’m going to do everything I can to help get us that win.”

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GT300 qualifying had its own little rags-to-redemption story, with the #3 B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R starting second fastest despite provisionally missing the cut in Q1 by less than a tenth of a second.

But when Jörg Müller’s best time in the #7 Studie BMW M6 was deleted due to track limits violations, Jann Mardenborough was given a second chance in Q2, and made the most of it by qualifying second on the grid, as B-Max NDDP Racing seek their third consecutive Thailand victory in as many races.

Both the #25 VivaC 86 and #3 B-Max GT-R enter tomorrow’s race thirteen points adrift of the championship-leading #61 Subaru R&D Sport BRZ (Takuto Iguchi/Hideki Yamauchi), which qualified eleventh despite carrying a field-high 94 kilograms of ballast.

The sole remaining Nissan GT-R, the #0 Gainer Tanax GT-R (Andre Couto/Ryuchiro Tomita) qualified third, and will share the second row with another Toyota 86 MC – the #18 Upgarage 86 (Yuhki Nakayama/Shinnosuke Yamada).

The #55 ARTA BMW M6 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi) was fifth-fastest, rebounding from a poor weekend in Suzuka.

The top six cars in the championship will all start in the top half of the grid, with the #31 apr Toyota Prius GT (Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama) that paced the first round of qualifying lining up in eighth, one place ahead of the #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka).

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The surprise from GT300 was the #35 Arto 86 MC of local wildcard Toyota Team Thailand, which guaranteed a start in the top half of the field thanks to a stunning lap by local hero Nattavude Charoensukhawatana that was good enough for 9th in Q1, and would have been 10th-quickest in Q2.

Co-driver and Singha Brewery heir Piti Bhirombakdi ultimately qualified the car 14th in Q2, ensuring the car would start one place ahead of fellow wildcard entry, the #28 Vattana BMW M6 (Morgan Haber/Chonsawat Asavahame), which starts 15th.

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