ARTA Honda on pole as Nissan struggles

With the top three teams in the standings failing to progress into Q2, ARTA driver Fukuzumi made the most of his rivals’ troubles to clinch a second pole in the space of three rounds.

The ex-Formula 2 driver posted a new lap record of 1m31.131s in the #16 Honda NSX-GT, which put him nearly half a second clear of Sena Sakaguchi in the Racing Project Bandoh Toyota.

Yuichi Nakayama was third in the SARD Toyota, edging out the Rookie Racing Toyota of Kazuya Oshima by just 0.002s – although both drivers finished eight tenths off pole position.

Giuliano Alesi could qualify the #37 TOM’S Toyota only fifth after his team-mate Ukyo Sasahara set the fastest lap in both practice and the first segment of qualifying, the French driver’s time of 1m32.038s over nine tenths slower than Fukuzumi’s pole lap.

Next up in sixth was Nobuharu Matsushita in the Real Racing Honda, followed by Yuji Tachikawa in the Cerumo Toyota.

Appearing at Team Kunimitsu as a substitute for the injured Naoki Yamamoto, Iori Kimura set an unrepresentative time of 1m34.464s to finish eighth after team-mate Tadasuke Makino successfully got the Honda team into Q2.

All four Nissan crews failed to reach the second part of qualifying, with the championship-leading #3 NISMO Z the best of the marque’s cars in ninth courtesy of a 1m32.681s lap from Katsumasa Chiyo, despite being the only GT500 car in the field with a fuel flow restrictor.

ARTA was able to repair the #8 Honda NSX in time for Q1 following a heavy shunt for Toshiki Oyu in practice, but Oyu was only able to qualify 10th with a time that was eight tenths off the session’s best.

The #24 Kondo Nissan that was on pole at Autopolis last year was 11th with Kohei Hirate at the wheel, ahead of the #36 TOM’S Toyota of Sho Tsuboi and the #1 Impul Nissan of Kazuki Hiramine, while Tsugio Matsuda was a disappointing 14th-fastest in the #23 NISMO Nissan.

First 2023 pole for Inging in GT300

In GT300, Yuui Tsutsumi clinched a first pole of the 2023 season for the Inging Toyota team, beating the Subaru of Hideki Yamauchi.

#2 muta Racing GR86 GT

#2 muta Racing GR86 GT

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

After Hibiki Taira led the way in the opening Q1 group, team-mate Tsutsumi found even more time in the #2 Toyota GR86 GT to post a stellar lap of 1m42.016s, a new circuit record in GT300.

It was over a tenth quicker than Yamauchi’s fastest lap in the #61 Subaru BRZ and a full three tenths faster than what Kazuto Kotaka managed in the #31 apr Lexus LC500h to take third.

Hiroki Yoshida was fourth in the championship-leading #52 Saitama Toyopet Toyota GR Supra, five places ahead of title rival Takashi Kobayashi in the #18 UpGarage Honda NSX GT3.

Tatsuya Kataoka was fifth and best of the FIA GT3 cars, the #4 Goodsmile Mercedes AMG GT3 that claimed pole in the second of the two Fuji races in August.

The most high-profile team to miss out on a Q2 slot was Kondo Racing, with Teppei Natori’s time of 1m44.625s in the #56 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 only good enough to put him and Joao Paulo de Oliveira 17th on the grid.

GT500 results:

1. #16 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT 1’31”131
2. #19 WedsSport ADVAN GR Supra 1’31”604
3. #39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra 1’31”997
4. #14 ENEOS X PRIME GR Supra 1’31”999
5. #37 Deloitte TOM’S GR Supra 1’32”038
6. #17 Astemo NSX-GT 1’32”206
7. #38 ZENT CERUMO GR Supra 1’32”357
8. #100 STANLEY NSX-GT 1’34”464

9. #3 Niterra MOTUL Z 1’32”681 (Q1)
10. #8 ARTA MUGEN NSX-GT 1’32”690
11. #24 Realize Corporation ADVAN Z 1’32”768
12. #36 au TOM’S GR Supra 1’32”892
13. #1 MARELLI IMPUL Z 1’32”941
14. #23 MOTUL AUTECH Z 1’33”097
15. #64 Modulo NSX-GT 1’33”363

GT300 results:

1. #2 muta Racing GR86 GT 1’42”016
2. #61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT 1’42”141
3. #31 apr LC500h GT 1’42”342
4. #52 Saitama Toyopet GB GR Supra GT 1’43”227
5. #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku AMG 1’43”466
6. #88 JLOC Lamborghini GT3 1’43”709
7. #65 LEON PYRAMID AMG 1’43”758
8. #20 Shade Racing GR86 GT 1’43”868
9. #18 UPGARAGE NSX GT3 1’43”880
10. #87 Bamboo Airways Lamborghini GT3 1’43”947
11. #7 Studie BMW M4 1’43”962
12. #96 K-tunes RC F GT3 1’44”005
13. #27 Yogibo NSX GT3 1’44”735
14. #10 PONOS GAINER GT-R 1’44”787
15. #50 ANEST IWATA Racing RC F GT3 1’45”071
16. #11 GAINER TANAX GT-R 1’45”531

17. #56 Realize Nissan Mechanic Challenge GT-R 1’44”625 (Q1)
18. #30 apr GR86 GT 1’44”776
19. #6 DOBOT Audi R8 LMS 1’44”715
20. #60 Syntium LMcorsa GR Supra GT 1’44”977
21. #9 PACIFIC VSpo NAC AMG 1’44”865
22. #5 Mach Syaken Air Buster MC86 1’45”306
23. #360 RUNUP RIVAUX GT-R 1’45”691
24. #48 Shokumou K’s Frontier GT-R 1’47”301
25. #22 R’Qs AMG GT3 1’48”181

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