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Tsuboi Tops Okayama Practice for TOM’S Toyota

TOM’S and Toyota top first SUPER GT practice of 2024 at Okayama; Honda’s new Civic Type R-GT second-fastest…


TOM’S Toyota driver Sho Tsuboi paced the opening practice session of the new SUPER GT season at Okayama International Circuit on Saturday morning.

Tsuboi posted a best lap of 1:17.923 just over 20 minutes into the one hour, 45 minute session at the wheel of the No. 36 Toyota GR Supra he shares with Kenta Yamashita.

That was enough to top the timesheets by an impressive margin of 0.535 seconds, continuing the reigning champion team’s strong form in pre-season testing.

Honda’s new Civic Type R-GT locked out second and third positions, as Nobuharu Matsushita put the No. 8 ARTA machine second with a best of 1:18.458, 0.123 seconds ahead of Tadasuke Makino in the No. 100 Team Kunimitsu car.

Makino was one of a handful of drivers to set his car’s best time during the final 10 minutes of practice reserved for GT500 cars, during which Matsushita’s teammate in the No. 8 car, Tomoki Nojiri, suffered a spin.

Leading the Nissan contingent was the No. 12 Team Impul Z of Bertrand Baguette on a 1:18.701, fractionally ahead of the second-best of the Toyota crews, the No. 39 SARD machine in which Yuichi Nakayama posted the quickest lap of 1:18.713.

Toyota squad Cerumo suffered a troubled start to the season as a mechanical problem kept the team in the garage for most of the opening half of the session, while team newcomer Toshiki Oyu taking a trip through the gravel later on.

The No. 38 car ended up 12th-fastest thanks to a late improvement by Oyu in the GT500-only portion of the session.

Best of the non-Bridgestone cars was the Yokohama-shod No. 24 Kondo Racing Nissan in 13th place, 1.327 seconds off the pace.

In GT300, Subaru set the pace with a best time of 1:26.119s recorded by Hideki Yamauchi in the No. 61 BRZ he shares with Takuto Iguchi.

Next up were the No. 96 K-tunes Racing Lexus RC F of Morio Nitta and the best of the JLOC Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, the No. 88 machine of Takashi Kogure.

The sister No. 87 Lamborghini caused the only red flag of the session, pulling off the road on its out lap. The team was later seen switching the car’s engine.

Also suffering problems were the PONOS Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, which had to be recovered from the end of the pit lane after coming to a stop, and the D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo that sat out the latter part of the session.

Qualifying at Okayama is due to get underway at 2 p.m. local time (1 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.

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