Lap records unofficially broken at Okayama and Suzuka tests

It was another week of two different tyre and manufacturer tests for the Autobacs Super GT Series, with Toyota Racing Development (TRD) testing at Okayama International Circuit on Wednesday and Thursday, and Honda headlining a similar manufacturer test at their home ground of Suzuka Circuit.

The final round of testing before the first official series test session saw lap records unofficially broken at both Okayama and Suzuka, with Lexus Team SARD’s LC500 turning in a lap of 1:17.824 on Wednesday at Okayama, and the Honda NSX-GT of Keihin Real Racing setting a blistering 1:45.456 on Friday morning at Suzuka.

Lexus brought five cars to the Okayama test: The #1 Denso Kobelco SARD LC500 (Heikki Kovalainen/Kohei Hirate), the #6 Wako’s LC500 (Kazuya Oshima/Andrea Caldarelli), the #19 WedsSport Advan LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi/Yuji Kunimoto), the #38 ZENT Cerumo LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura) were all present.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

So too was the #37 KeePer TOM’s LC500, piloted by Ryo Hirakawa, Nick Cassidy, and Kazuki Nakajima – seen in partial livery, and without the Red Bull sponsor decals that were revealed on Thursday.

There was even a surprise driver for Lexus Team WedsSport BANDOH, spotted in car by eagle-eyed photographer Ryuji Oniki:

That would be Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 star and former Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi, in his signature black and white crash helmet, getting his first laps in a GT500 car in preparation for his anticipated debut at this year’s Suzuka 1000km.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

But the head of the class in GT500 at Okayama were the defending champions at Lexus Team SARD, whose best lap of 1:17.824 unofficially eclipses last year’s course record – a 1:18.126 set by Hirakawa in qualifying for last April’s season-opening race. The Wako’s LC500 and ZENT Cerumo LC500 also went under the current lap record.

Only one Nissan came to Okayama this week, the #24 Kondo Racing Advan GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/João Paulo de Oliveira), which was sixth-fastest behind the Lexus quintet.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

Five GT300 cars also tested at Okayama: The #3 B-Max NDDP Nissan GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino/Mitsunori Takaboshi), the #30 Toyota Prius apr GT (Hiroaki Nagai/Kota Sasaki), the #33 D’Station Porsche 911 GT3-R (Tomonobu Fujii), the #51 JMS P.MU Lexus RC-F GT3 (Yuichi Nakayama/Sho Tsuboi), and the #52 GreenBrave Toyota Mark X MC (Takayuki Hiranuma/Taku Bamba).

But the B-Max GT-R was head-and-shoulders above the rest, lapping the Okayama circuit at 1:25.158 on Wednesday afternoon – the only GT300 car to dip into the sub 1m26s range.

Okayama Test Results – March 1-2

GT500
Rank / Car / Tyre / Best Time [Date+Session]
1st – #1 Denso Kobelco SARD LC500 [BS] – 1:17.824 [3/1 AM]
2nd – #38 ZENT Cerumo LC500 [BS] – 1:17.968 [3/1 PM]

3rd – #6 Wako’s LC500 [BS] – 1:17.990 [3/1 AM]
4th – #19 WedsSport Advan LC500 [YH] – 1:18.162 [3/2 PM]
5th – #37 KeePer TOM’s LC500 [BS] – 1:18.261 [3/2 PM]
6th – #24 Kondo Advan GT-R [YH] – 1:18.323 [3/2 PM]
GT300
Rank / Car / Tyre / Best Time [Date+Session]
1st – #3 B-Max NDDP GT-R [YH] – 1:25.158 [3/1 PM]
2nd – #30 Toyota Prius apr GT [YH] – 1:26.285 [3/1 PM]
3rd – #51 JMS P.MU LMcorsa RC F GT3 [BS] – 1:26.612 [3/1 AM]
4th – #33 D’Station Porsche 911 GT3-R [YH] – 1:26.718 [3/1 AM]
5th – #52 GreenBrave Mark X MC [YH] – 1:27.457 [3/1 PM]


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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

Honda tested at Okayama last week, this week they returned home to Suzuka with four NSX-GTs: The #8 ARTA NSX (Tomoki Nojiri/Takashi Kobayashi), the #16 Motul Mugen NSX (Hideki Mutoh/Daisuke Nakajima), the #17 Keihin NSX (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure), and the #100 Raybrig NSX (Naoki Yamamoto/Takuya Izawa), seen above in its black and blue “Phase-01” testing livery.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

Representing Nissan at Suzuka was the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda / Jann Mardenborough), who also traveled with Honda to Okayama last week. Two GT300 cars – the #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) and the #2 Syntium Apple Lotus Evora MC (Kazuho Takahashi/Hiroki Katoh) also took part.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

Incredible as it sounds, despite 25 percent less downforce this season, all four Hondas unofficially crushed the old course record.

Leading the way was the Keihin NSX of Tsukakoshi and Kogure, whose best lap of 1:45.456 was two flat seconds faster than Hideki Mutoh’s 2016 Suzuka 1000km pole lap in the previous NSX Concept-GT.

ARTA, Raybrig Team Kunimitsu, and Team Mugen were second, third, and fourth in order respectively, all setting fastest times under 1 minute 47 seconds, with the Calsonic GT-R in fifth.

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© Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

The Tony Taka-designed Hatsune Miku AMG livery was seen in anger for the first time, and won out in the abbreviated GT300 class over the Mooncraft-built Lotus in all four sessions.

Suzuka test results – March 2-3

GT500
Rank / Car / Tyre / Best Time [Date+Session]
1st: #17 Keihin NSX-GT [BS] – 1:45.456 [3/3 AM]
2nd: #8 ARTA NSX-GT [BS] – 1:45.661 [3/3 AM]
3rd: #100 Raybrig NSX-GT [BS] – 1:45.798 [3/3 AM]
4th: #16 Motul Mugen NSX-GT [BS] – 1:46.571 [3/3 AM]
5th: #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R [BS] – 1:47.823 [3/3 PM]
GT300
Rank / Car / Tyre / Best Time [Date+Session]

1st: #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku AMG [YH] – 1:56.280 [3/3 PM]
2nd: #2 Syntium Apple Lotus [YH] – 1:57.168 [3/3 AM]

Italics denotes lap record. All lap times unofficial.

Photo Credits: Toshikazu Moriyama / AUTOSPORTweb

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