Connect with us


Toyota Locks Out Front Row at Okayama

TOM’S pair Sho Tsuboi and Kenta Yamashita secure first pole with new-for-2024 aggregate qualifying format…


Toyota swept the front row for the opening round of the new SUPER GT season at Okayama, as TOM’S duo Sho Tsuboi and Kenta Yamashita claimed pole position.

In the first run for the new-for-2024 aggregate qualifying system, Tsuboi and Yamashita produced a combined effort of 2:35.561 at the wheel of the No. 36 Toyota GR Supra, beating the SARD Toyota of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Yuichi Nakayama by 0.226 seconds.

Yamashita had set only the fifth-fastest time in Q1, 0.324 seconds off the pace set by NISMO Nissan driver Katsumasa Chiyo, but on the same set of tires Tsuboi set the pace in Q2 with a 1:17.748, giving the No. 36 TOM’S crew the top spot in the overall order.

Likewise, Nakayama had been fourth-fastest in Q1, but Sekiguchi setting the second-best time in Q2, a 1:17.995, was enough to book the No. 39 SARD GR Supra a spot on the front row, also giving the team two bonus points.

Honda’s new Civic Type R-GT secured third on the grid for its debut race in the hands of Team Kunimitsu pair Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino.

After Makino was sixth-fastest in Q1, Yamamoto’s effort in Q2 gave the No. 100 crew a combined time only 0.322 seconds off the pace.

Cerumo Toyota driver Toshiki Oyu had been second-fastest only to Chiyo in Q1, but teammate Hiroaki Ishiura could only manage the seventh-best time in Q2, leaving the No. 38 car fourth on the grid.

Completing the top five was another Toyota crew, the No. 14 Rookie Racing pair of Kazuya Oshima and Nirei Fukuzumi.

The No. 23 NISMO Nissan Z slumped from first to sixth in Q2 as Chiyo’s teammate Ronnie Quintarelli was only able to produce the 10th-fastest time, one place ahead of the sister No. 3 Nissan shared by Mitsunori Takaboshi and Atsushi Miyake.

Eighth went to the second-best of the Hondas, the No. 16 ARTA car, but the team’s No. 8 car suffered a disastrous session that will force the team to take the start from the pits.

Nobuharu Matsushita was at the wheel of the No. 8 Civic for Q1, but made a crucial error at the end of his attack lap, running wide and putting two wheels on the grass coming through the two final right-handers.

With Matsushita’s lap scrubbed, and no option to change tires between sessions, ARTA opted not to send Tomoki Nojiri out at all in Q2.

The non-Bridgestone GT500 runners predictably struggled, with the best of the trio being the No. 24 Kondo Racing Nissan in 12th using Yokohama tires.

LEON Mercedes Takes Surprise GT300 Pole

Pole in the GT300 class went to the No. 65 LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo shared by Naoya Gamou and Takuro Shinohara, whose collective efforts were enough to beat the two fastest cars from the opening phase of qualifying.

The No. 61 Subaru BRZ and the No. 2 Inging Toyota GR86 topped their respective Q1 groups, but Gamou’s Q2 time was enough to put the LEON car on top, with his best time of 1:26.016 producing a combined time of 2:52.198.

That was enough to eclipse the Inging car of Hibiki Taira and Yuui Tsutsumi by 0.067 seconds, with the Subaru of Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi lining up third.

K-tunes Racing took fourth on the grid with its Lexus RC F GT3 shared by veterans Morio Nitta and Shinichi Takagi, while SUPER GT newcomer Niklas Kruetten helped BMW Team Studie to fifth on the grid in the M4 GT3 he shares with Seiji Ara.

Best of the new Ferrari 296 GT3s was the No. 6 Team LeMans car of Roberto Merhi and Yoshiaki Katayama in seventh, while the PONOS Racing example of Kei Cozzolino and Lilou Wadoux ended up 12th.

The D’station Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo didn’t appear in qualifying following reported engine issues in practice.

Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m local time (12:30 a.m. EDT).

Results: GT500/GT300

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.

Click to comment

More in SUPER GT