Sugo Super GT: Nojiri leads Honda 1-2-3 in qualifying
Honda teams locked the top three spots in the Super GT qualifying at Sugo, with Tomoki Nojiri sealing pole position in the #8 ARTA NSX-GT.
Nojiri clocked a time of 1m10.915s around the 3.7-km track, beating Naoki Yamamoto - who drives the #100 Raybrig Honda entry alongside Takuya Izawa - by six tenths of a second.
It was the second pole position of the season for the ARTA squad, the first being set by Nojiri’s teammate Takashi Kobayashi at the season opener in Okayama.
The #17 Keihin Honda of Takashi Kogure and Koudai Tsukakoshi missed out on a front row start by just 0.022s, with the #19 WedsSport Lexus squad of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Yuji Kunimoto the highest non-Honda qualifier in fourth.
Daisuke Nakajima and Hideki Mutoh made it four Honda cars in the top five by qualifying their #16 Mugen NSX-GT in fifth place on the grid. The duo will be joined by 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button at the Suzuka 1000 km race next month.
Despite an upgraded engine, Nissan struggled to match Honda and Lexus outfits in Sugo, with Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Daiki Sasaki qualifying no higher than sixth in the #23 Forum Engineering ADVAN car.
Apart from the Kondo Racing entry, none of the Nissan cars made it to the second leg of qualifying.
Championship leaders Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa were also eliminated in Q1, the #37 KeePer TOM'S Lexus duo consigned to 11th on the grid.
Toyota tops GT300 qualifying
In stark contrast to Cassidy and Hirakawa, GT300 points leaders Kenta Yamashita and Takamitsu Matsui had an untroubled qualifying session as they took the class pole with a time of 1m18.657s in the #25 Toyota 86 MC.
The VivaC duo were able to edge #18 Team Upgarage’s Yuhki Nakayama and Shintaro Kawabata by a tenth of a second despite carrying a field-high ballast of 58kg.
Akira Iida and Hiroki Yoshimoto qualified third in the #60 Lexus, with Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi putting the #61 R&D Subaru in fourth.
The #3 B-MAX NDDP Nissan of Kazuki Hoshino and Mitsunori Takaboshi was fifth in a session dominated by Japanese cars.
GT500 qualifying results:
|1|| || Tomoki Nojiri |
|2|| || Naoki Yamamoto |
|3|| || Koudai Tsukakoshi |
|4|| || Yuhi Sekiguchi |
|1'11.597 || |
|5|| || Hideki Mutoh |
|6|| || Daiki Sasaki |
Joao Paulo de Oliveira
|1'12.136 || |
|7|| || Heikki Kovalainen |
|1'12.024 || |
|8|| || Kazuya Oshima |
|9|| || Hironobu Yasuda |
|10|| || Bertrand Baguette |
|11|| || Ryo Hirakawa |
|12|| || Yuji Tachikawa |
|13|| || Kazuki Nakajima |
|14|| || Tsugio Matsuda |
|15|| || Satoshi Motoyama |
Button to make Super GT debut in Suzuka 1000km
Sugo Super GT: Kovalainen, Hirate win after thrilling finish