The qualifying for the SUZUKA GT 300km RACE, Round 3 of the 2019 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Suzuka circuit (1 lap 5,804m) in Mie Prefecture on May 25. In the GT500 class the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Kazuki Nakajima/Yuhi Sekiguchi) won pole position with a lap time of 1’45.775. In the GT300 class, the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Takamitsu Matsui/Kimiya Sato) won pole position.
The Suzuka round, which had been held in August as the Suzuka 1000km in august until 2017, was held last year as Round 3 in May with the race distance shortened to 300 km. Held on the same schedule again this year, the qualifying is run in the usual SUPER GT format of a two-stage (Q1 and Q2) knock-out style qualifying competition.
The GT500 class qualifying Q1 session started at 3:09 in the afternoon, nine minutes after schedule due to an accident in the prior GT300 class qualifying Q1. With fifteen cars competing in the 15-minute GT500 Q1 session, the eight fastest cars would qualify to proceed to Q2. In the Q1 session, the fastest time was recorded by last year’s Suzuka pole position-winning No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Tomoki Nojiri). The other cars qualifying in the top eight were 8 were four Honda NSX-GT cars, three LEXUS LC500s and one NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500. The current leader in the series point standings, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda), and the last round’s winner, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Hiroaki Ishiura), unfortunately failed to make the cut-off and qualify for Q2.
In the ensuing 10-minute Q2 to determine pole position, the No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) recorded the top time with one minute remaining in the session, only to see that time beaten by the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa). Next, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa) came home with a time just short of car No. 37’s. When the checkered flag signaled the last lap of the session, it looked as if No. 37 had won pole position. However, there was still time for Yuhi Sekiguchi, still in mid-lap in the No. 36 au TOM’S LC500, to drive hard and come home with the fastest lap time of the day. That time of 1’45.775 gave No. 36 pole position for tomorrow’s race. For Sekiguchi, it was his second pole position following the one at the Thai Round 7 of 2016.
The fastest time in the GT300 class Q1was recorded by No. 5 ADVICS MACHSYAKENMC86 MACH GO (Natsu Sakaguchi) and the second fastest time was by the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC (Kimiya Sato). Then in Q2, the No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC’s Takamitsu Matsui ran a magnificent time to take the class pole position. Last year’s pole position winner, the No. 96 K-tunes RC F GT3 (Morio Nitta/Sena Sakaguchi) finished in 2nd position, while 3rd position went to the No. 5 ADVICS MACHSYAKENMC86 MACH GO (Yuya Hiraki).
Spectators: 21,000 (May 25)
Pole Winner Comments
No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 [GT500]
“I’m very excited. (Kazuki) Nakajima was outstanding in getting us to Q2, and he laid out the situation for me. We readjusted the road clearance of the vehicle to within increments of 0.1 mm. We looked at tire pressure as well, consulting the data from No. 37 (No. 37 KeePer TOM’S LC500 of the same team). We went back over almost everything, and every single one of them paid off.”
No. 25 HOPPY 86 MC [GT300]
“After my last time attack I still didn’t know what my time was, so I didn’t know I had won pole position until I got back to the pit. But I am very Happy I got pole. But even more than that, I am happy that that the changes we made to the car’s settings worked out well. I hope we can carry this good flow into tomorrow’s race, where I will work hard to get the win.”
Source. Super GT