A total of 13 cars, representing the entire GT500 field except the two NISMO-run Nissan Zs, were in action for the opening day of what marks the final group running before next week’s official Okayama test.
Continuing the pattern seen in previous tests, it was the Honda NSX-GT contingent that dominated the timesheets, with all four of the marque’s Bridgestone runners sitting at the top of the charts.
ARTA continued to demonstrate the apparent strength of its new partnership with Mugen as the #8 car of Toshiki Oyu set a blistering best time of 1m42.630s in an extended three-hour afternoon session.
That was almost 1.5 seconds up on the pole time set last May by the Racing Project Bandoh Toyota.
All four Bridgestone Hondas easily beat that record, with the #17 Real Racing car of Koudai Tsukakoshi going second-fastest on a 1m43.099s, followed by the #100 Team Kunimitsu NSX-GT of Naoki Yamamoto on a 1m43.164s.
ARTA’s #16 car was fourth-fastest in the hands of newcomer Hiroki Otsu ahead of the Bandoh Toyota of Sena Sakaguchi, which was best of the non-Hondas.
Nissan’s top representative was the Kondo Racing car in ninth place, while Toyota squad Rookie Racing was 10th-fastest with Kazuya Oshima piloting the car solo in the absence of Kenta Yamashita.
It remains unclear whether any GT500 runners were using the new carbon-neutral fuel that SUPER GT has adopted for 2023, but it’s understood that at least the Honda contingent were using regular gasoline. The new fuel is estimated to be slower by approximately one second a lap.
Poor track conditions at the start of the morning session meant only eight of the 13 runners elected to go out. Fastest of those the #36 TOM’S Toyota, which ended up sixth-fastest in the afternoon with Ritomo Miyata driving.
The Bandoh and Rookie Toyotas both gained some additional mileage on Wednesday alongside the Honda development car, but both squads went considerable quicker on Thursday.
Nissan’s pair of NISMO-run cars meanwhile undertook their own private session at Okayama on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Suzuka SUPER GT testing times:
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