Suzuka Super GT: ARTA Honda scores pole, Button on front row
Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa claimed pole position for Super GT’s Suzuka round as ex-Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button qualified on the front row.
The ARTA Honda duo led Q2 from early on with a banker lap, before a 1m44.319s flyer strengthened their position at the top of the standings.
With no improvements in the final 90 seconds of the session, Nojiri and Izawa secured ARTA’s first pole since last year’s Fuji 300km race.
Button and Team Kunimitsu Honda teammate Naoki Yamamoto qualified a close second, 0.154s slower than the pole pairing, to secure their best qualifying result of the season.
Okayama winners Koudai Tsukakoshi and Takashi Kogure (Real Racing) made it a 1-2-3 for Honda in qualifying, although the Real Racing pair qualified another 0.361s adrift of the front-row starters.
Defending champions Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa led the charge for Lexus, qualifying the #1 TOM’S car in fourth place for the returning Suzuka 300km race.
Bertrand Baguette and Kosuke Matsuura will line up fifth in the Nakajima Honda, despite an early spin from the latter in the final part of qualifying.
Daiki Sasaki and former GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough were Nissan’s sole Q2 challengers, managing the sixth fastest time of the session in the Impul GT-R.
Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima were next up in seventh in the Mugen Honda, while Yuhi Sekiguchi and Kazuki Nakajima failed to set a representative Q2 time and were eighth in the #36 TOM’S Lexus.
Further back, Yuji Kunimoto and Kenta Yamashita qualified ninth in the Bandoh Lexus, just 0.053s ahead of the Zent/Cerumo Lexus of Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa.
Championship leaders Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda ended up dead last, handicapped by 52kg of ballast aboard their NISMO-branded GT-R.
Lexus tops GT300 qualifying
Lexus claimed GT300 pole honours for the first time in 2018, with Morio Nitta and Yuichi Nakayama topping the qualifying session in the #96 LM Corsa RC F.
Takamitsu Matsui and Sho Tsuboi, who starred on his GT500 debut at Fuji, qualified a close second in the #25 Tsuchiya Engineering Toyota, while the top three was completed by Team Ukyo Mercedes pair Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka.
|1|| Tomoki Nojiri |
|2|| Naoki Yamamoto |
|3|| Koudai Tsukakoshi |
|4|| Ryo Hirakawa |
|5|| Bertrand Baguette |
|Honda||1'44.959 R || |
|6|| Daiki Sasaki |
|7|| Hideki Mutoh |
|Honda||1'45.572 R || |
|8|| Kazuki Nakajima |
|Lexus||1'45.613 R || |
|9|| Yuji Kunimoto |
|10|| Yuji Tachikawa |
|11|| Joao Paulo de Oliveira |
|Nissan||1'46.013 R |
|12|| Satoshi Motoyama |
|13|| Heikki Kovalainen |
|Lexus||1'46.211 R |
|14|| Kazuya Oshima |
|15|| Tsugio Matsuda |
|Nissan||1'46.306 R |
The Super GT stand-in that turned heads at Fuji
Suzuka Super GT: ARTA Honda wins, Button second