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Sasahara, Alesi Take Suzuka Pole in No. 37 TOM’S Car

Ukyo Sasahara and Giuliano Alesi give No. 37 TOM’S Toyota first pole since 2021; D’station Racing on top in GT300…


TOM’S Toyota pair Ukyo Sasahara and Giuliano Alesi scored their first SUPER GT pole position as a duo in qualifying for this weekend’s third round of the season at Suzuka.

Having struggled in the opening two races of the campaign, Sasahara and Alesi were able to reverse their recent fortunes in the No. 37 Toyota GR Supra by beating their nearest rival, the No. 16 ARTA Honda Civic Type R-GT, by 0.336 seconds on aggregate times.

Sasahara followed up setting the fastest time in free practice with the benchmark time in Q1, a 1:45.434, giving Alesi a buffer of 0.266 seconds over the field.

Although Alesi couldn’t match his teammate’s time in Q2, his effort of 1:46.439 was enough for his first GT500 pole and a second for Sasahara, with the No. 37 side of the TOM’S garage celebrating its first pole since the opening round at Okayama in 2021.

Ren Sato had only been fourth-fastest in the first segment of qualifying aboard the No. 16 Honda, but Hiroki Otsu’s effort of 1:46.430 in Q2 lifted the car to second on the grid.

Nobuharu Matsushita had been Sasahara’s nearest rival in Q1 aboard the second of the ARTA cars, the No. 8, but teammate Tomoki Nojiri was nearly half a second slower than Alesi in Q2, leaving the pair only fourth on aggregate times.

They will start one place behind the No. 14 Rookie Racing Toyota of Kazuya Oshima and Nirei Fukuzumi, the latter setting the fastest time of all in Q2, a 1:45.836.

Completing the top five was the No. 38 Cerumo Toyota of Hiroaki Ishiura and Toshiki Oyu.

Despite carrying a stage one fuel flow restrictor after their victory last time out at Fuji, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Atsushi Miyake did enough to qualify sixth in the No. 3 NISMO Nissan Z, one place ahead of the sister car of Katsumasa Chiyo and Ronnie Quintarelli.

The championship-leading No. 36 TOM’S Toyota of Sho Tsuboi and Kenta Yamashita on the other hand could only manage 11th with their fuel flow restrictor.

Kakunoshin Ohta had set the third-best time in Q1 in the Real Racing Honda, but a costly spin for teammate Koudai Tsukakoshi at the Esses in Q2 meant the No. 17 pair didn’t meet the 107% rule and will therefore start from the pit lane.

D’station Scores First Pole for New Aston Martin

In the GT300 class, D’station Racing duo Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg delivered the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo its first pole position in SUPER GT competition.

Fujii set the tempo in Q1 with a best lap of 1:57.894, which was more than half a second clear of any other driver in the first part of qualifying, and the second-fastest lap in Q2 for Fagg, a 1:58.296, was enough to seal the deal for the No. 777 crew.

Hideki Yamauchi produced the best lap of Q2 in the works Subaru BRZ, a 1:58.193, but he and teammate Takuto Iguchi were left more than six tenths behind the D’station Aston on aggregate times.

Third went to the championship-leading Inging Toyota GR86 GT of Hibiki Taira and Yuui Tsutsumi thanks to a last-ditch effort by the latter in Q2 to get ahead of the Shade Racing Toyota and the Team LeMans Ferrari 296 GT3.

The Fuji-winning No. 88 JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 is set to start from the pits after a spin for Takashi Kogure at 130R in Q1 meant the team sat out Q2 altogether.

Yellow flags caused by Kogure’s spin ruined Joao Paulo de Oliveira’s best lap in the Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, with the No. 56 car ending up down in 26th.


Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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