The qualifying for the MOTEGI GT 300km RACE, Round 4 of the 2021 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series took place at Twin Rings Motegi in Tochigi Pref. on July 17 (Sat). In the GT500 class, the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Tadasuke Makino) won pole position. In the GT300 class, Yasuda in the No.11 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Hironobu Yasuda) won his first SUPER GT pole position.
With Round 3 having been postponed until August 21-22, this was the first SUPER GT race to be held in two and a half months. For this reason, Round 4 became the third round to be held this season. With rainy season officially announced to have ended in the Kanto region the day before, the official qualifying began at just after 2:00 in the afternoon under a fair summer sky with the air temperature at hot 33 degrees Celsius.
All 15 cars of GT500 class competing in the 10-minute Q1 session to qualify for Q2 by finishing in the top eight began their serious time attack near the end of the session. The No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nojiri Tomoki) was the first to top the time board, but he was soon replaced by the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo). After having failed to score a podium finish in the first two rounds of the season, it looked as if the NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 teams had come back to prove themselves in this third round. But with Motegi being the Honda home track, it was no surprise that the NSX-GT teams were in top form. On the last lap of the session, the No.1 STANLEY NSX-GT (Tadasuke Makino) recorded a time of 1’38.001 to move into top position, while the No. 16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Toshiki Oyu) move into the 2nd spot, giving the NSX-GT teams the top two positions. Of the TOYOTA GR Supra GT500 teams, the No. 37 KeePer TOM’S GR Supra (Ryo Hirakawa) finished the session in 3rd position. Of the GT-R teams, the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) was the fastest in 6th position, and able to advance to Q2.
The 10-minute Q2 session would decide the class pole position. The No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate) was first to move into top position with a time of 1’38.436. But soon after that the battle for top position moved down into the 1’37 sec. range, and in the resulting fierce competition for pole position it was the fastest qualifier of Q1, the No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT that came out on top. Naoki Yamamoto took pole position with a time of 1’37.498. For the NSX-GT, it was the first PP of the season, and for Yamamoto it was the third of his career and his first at Motegi. The 2nd qualifying position went to the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra (Ritomo Miyata) close behind with a time of 1’37.549. Third position went to the No. 16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT (Ukyo Sasahara). The only GT-R team to make it to Q2, the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Kohei Hirate) finished the qualifying in 7th position.
The GT300 class Q1 session was held in two groups running separately (Group A and B). In Group A, the fastest qualifier was the No.11 GAINER TANAX GT-R (Katsuyuki Hiranaka), and in Group B the No. 7 Studie PLUS BMW (Seiji Ara) recorded the fastest time. The Q2 session was competed by the top eight qualifiers from the two Q1 sessions, for a total of 16 cars. In this session, Hironobu Yasuda in the No. 11 GAINER TANAX GT-R ran the top time of 1’47.737. This gave car No. 11 its second pole position of the season following the one in the opening round at Okayama, while for Yasuda it was his personal first Super GT pole in either class. Finishing the class qualifying in 2nd position was the No. 244 Taka-no-yu GR Supra GT (Atsushi Miyake/Yuui Tsutsumi), while 3rd position went to the winner of the opening round of the season, the No. 56 Realize Nissan Automobile Technical College GT-R (Kiyoto Fujinami/Joao Paulo de Oliveira).
Pole Position winner comments
No. 1 STANLEY NSX-GT
“We came into this season with new team members including new engineers so there were new things to get used to at first. But we have managed to come to this point where we are able to work well together, thanks in good part by help from our former engineers. I believe that today’s pole position result was not due just to me and Tadasuke [Makino], but to the efforts of everyone on Team Kunimitsu and Honda’s HRD Sakura (the company in charge of development for the NSX-GT). Personally, (as a native of Tochigi Prefecture) I have been competing here for 11 years, but this is my first pole position at Motegi, so the joy of this pole position is nothing less than that of a race win, and I want to express my gratitude to the whole team. As a professional, I will be working as one with the whole to get a win in tomorrow’s race.”
No. 11 GAINER TANAX GT-R
“Until now I have usually run in Q1 of the qualifying. This time, Hiranaka-san agreed to have me run in Q2 because I have usually run well at Motegi. But when he ran so well in Q1 and recorded the fastest time, it really put me on the spot and made me nervous before the start of Q2. But once I got out on the track, I was able to stay calm and run well and get pole position. In tomorrow’s race, I want to give a performance that will be inspiring to everyone, so I hope everyone will be cheering for us.”
Source. Super GT