Super GT testing resumed at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, for the third day of a four-day manufacturer and tyre test involving Nissan, Honda, Lexus, and Toyota.
With the resumption of testing on a cloudy, humid afternoon came a few new faces to the paddock – including Jann Mardenborough, Katsumasa Chiyo, Ryo Hirakawa, and Daisuke Ito, who all took their first laps around Sepang in the 2017 GT500 challengers.
But at the top of the time sheets for the second consecutive day was the returning World Endurance Championship star Kazuki Nakajima, who set the quickest lap of the day for Lexus Team au TOM’s and their Lexus LC500 in the morning session.
With temperatures at 30°C to start the third day of testing, the tyre manufacturers got a good chance to see how their products held up in conditions similar to what we’ll see in the Summer Series.
Nakajima’s best lap of a 1:50.482 was the quickest of the day for TOM’s, who had a full house of drivers on hand for testing – including Nick Cassidy, Ryo Hirakawa, team director Daisuke Ito, and rookie Sho Tsuboi (the latter three would test in the afternoon). Ronnie Quintarelli was second fastest in the #23 NISMO GT-R, and Hiroaki Ishiura set the third-fastest time in the #093 Lexus LC500.
Fresh off his standout performance at the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hours, Jann Mardenborough got behind the wheel of the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R for the very first time in the morning session.
Two hours into the morning session, heavy rain plastered the circuit. The squall conditions would once again wreak havoc on the afternoon session, preventing any of the teams from improving on their morning times, but allowing for more wet-weather tyre testing.
In the rain-laden afternoon session, it was Mardenborough who recorded the fastest time with a best lap of 1:58.613, nearly eight-tenths of a second faster than the second best time set by Quintarelli in the #23 GT-R. For most of the session prior to that, the three Honda NSX-GTs locked out the top three places, led by the #64 Epson NSX-GT of Bertrand Baguette and Daisuke Nakajima on Dunlop tyres.
There were only two stoppages in the afternoon session: One for a spin involving Hirakawa and the #36 au LC500, and the second when the #35 Toyota Team Thailand MC86 of Yuhki Nakayama suffered a drivetrain issue on track.
Due to the conditions on the circuit, the afternoon session was cut short by thirty minutes. Tomorrow’s final day of testing at Sepang will be extended by thirty minutes to offset the change.
Rank / Number / Car / (Drivers) / Tyre / Best Lap (all times set in AM session)
1st: #36 au TOM’s LC500 (K. Nakajima/Cassidy/Hirakawa/Ito/Tsuboi) – BS – 1:50.482
2nd: #23 NISMO GT-R (R. Quintarelli) – MI – 1:50.592
3rd: #093 Lexus LC500 (H. Ishiura/K. Oshima) – BS – 1:50.729
4th: #24 Kondo Advan GT-R (D. Sasaki/J.P. Oliveira) – YH – 1:50.730
5th: #99 Honda NSX-GT (N. Yamamoto/T. Izawa/K. Tsukakoshi) – BS – 1:51.034
6th: #230 Nissan GT-R (K. Chiyo) – MI – 1:51.137
7th: #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R (H. Yasuda/J. Mardenborough) – BS – 1:51.242
8th: #64 Epson NSX-GT (B. Baguette/K. Matsuura) – DL – 1:51.423
9th: #16 Mugen NSX-GT (H. Mutoh/D. Nakajima) – YH – 1:51.686
1st: #60 Lexus RC F GT3 (A. Iida/H. Yoshimoto) – YH – 2:02.000
2nd: #35 Toyota MC86 (Yuhki Nakayama) – YH – 2:02.235
Photo Credit: Kazuya Minakoshi