On Thursday, 9 GT500 teams and 3 GT300 teams travelled to Okayama International Circuit for the first day of a manufacturer shakedown test – which will precede the first official Super GT pre-season test on March 17 & 18.
Continuing with last winter’s theme of Lexus supremacy, their LC500s recorded the fastest times of both the morning and afternoon sessions, with the #38 ZENT Cerumo LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura) recording the fastest time of the day, and the GT300 class in both sessions being led by the #65 LEON Cvstos Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Haruki Kurosawa/Naoya Gamou).
Four teams represented Lexus, including the defending GT500 champions’ #1 KeePer TOM’s LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa/Nick Cassidy/Yuhi Sekiguchi), three teams representing Honda with their NSX-GTs, and two from Nissan with their GT-R GT500s.
This was also the first time that GT500’s big-ticket signings from the winter were all on track at the same time: Kamui Kobayashi (Lexus Team SARD), Felix Rosenqvist (Lexus Team Wako’s LeMans), and Jenson Button (Team Kunimitsu) all taking part.
The Thursday morning session, held under cloudy skies on a cool, dry circuit, was led by a Lexus 1-2-3, with the KeePer LC500 recording the fastest time of a 1:17.897, followed by the ZENT LC500 with a 1:17.983, and the #6 Wako’s 4CR LC500 of Rosenqvist & Kazuya Oshima third with a 1:18.020.
Then followed the #17 Keihin NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure), best of the Hondas with a 1:18.176.
In the afternoon, the ZENT LC500 went on to post its best time of a 1:17.735, with the rest of the top 3 – including the Wako’s LC500 and the Keihin NSX-GT – all within 0.034 seconds of each other! In fourth was the best of the GT-Rs, the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/Jann Mardenborough), posting a 1:17.919.
The 2009 World Champion Button and Naoki Yamamoto’s best time for their #100 Raybrig NSX-GT was a 1:18.205, posted in the AM session.
The new #3 Craft Sports Motul GT-R (Satoshi Motoyama/Katsumasa Chiyo) took to the track in its partial livery – one that, when finished, will seem reminiscent of their GT300 colours of years past. But they were 9th and bottom of the order in both sessions, their best time in the PM session a 1:19.440 on Michelin tyres.
Only 3 GT300 machines took part in the test, and the LEON AMG of Kurosawa & Gamou – who just announced their driver lineup on the day of the test – slotted in at the top of the AM session with a 1:26.580, before improving to a 1:25.992 in the PM session, finishing ahead of the #55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Sean Walkinshaw) in both sessions.
This was the first track running for the #34 Modulo Kenwood NSX GT3 (Ryo Michigami/Hiroki Otsu) in its striking black and orange livery, but they were unable to do better than a 1:26.657 for the day, finishing last among the limited GT300 field in day one.
All photos credit: Ryuji Hirano / AUTOSPORTweb