Fuji Super GT: TOM'S on pole for decider, Toyota dominates

Jamie Klein
·4 min read

Yamashita, replacing Nick Cassidy in the #37 Toyota GR Supra alongside Ryo Hirakawa for the final two races of the season, posted a 1m26.386s at the end of the Q2 pole shootout to score a vital bonus point for Hirakawa's championship quest.

That was half a tenth underneath the record established by Honda man Nirei Fukuzumi during qualifying for the opening race of the year at Fuji.

Yamashita had topped practice earlier in the day, while Hirakawa set the pace in Q1 to give the #37 car a clean sweep during Saturday's track action.

A second pole of the season gives Hirakawa a one-point lead over Real Racing Honda pair Bertrand Baguette and Koudai Tsukakoshi heading into Sunday's decider.

Heikki Kovalainen gave the SARD Toyota squad its best grid slot of the season in second, albeit 0.367s behind Yamashita, while Yuhi Sekiguchi in the #36 TOM'S Supra and Yuji Tachikawa in the #38 Cerumo car will line up on the second row.

Best of the non-Toyotas was the Nakajima Racing Honda of Takuya Izawa in fifth, followed by top Nissan driver and title contender Ronnie Quintarelli in sixth.

Rounding out the Q2 order were Naoki Yamamoto in the Team Kunimitsu Honda team's final outing with long-time sponsor Raybrig, and Kazuki Hiramine in the Impul Nissan GT-R.

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Honda lost two of its three realistic title contenders in Q1 as Tomoki Nojiri could only manage 11th in the ARTA NSX-GT, and Baguette was 12th in the Real Racing car.

Also suffering a qualifying session to forget was the #14 Cerumo Toyota, which was 13th-fastest in the hands of reigning champion Kazuya Oshima.

GT300: Saitama Toyopet boosts title bid with pole

The Saitama Toyopet team's outside hopes of securing the GT300 title were given a boost when Kohta Kawaii took pole in the Toyota GR Supra GT300 he shares with Hiroki Yoshida.

Kawaii set a 1m34.665s to beat the class lap record by more than a second and take pole by over four tenths from the works Subaru BRZ of Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi, which also heads into the final race with ambitions of clinching the crown.

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It means Kawaii and Yoshida head into the finale 14 points adrift of the Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Kiyoto Fujinami, who qualified seventh.

The second-best of the title contenders, the LEON Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Naoya Gamou and Togo Suganami, was fifth behind the Inging Motorsport Toyota GT86 MC and the K-tunes Racing Lexus RC F GT3, both of which are out of the reckoning.

Gamou and Suganami trail de Oliveira and Fujinami by five points, meaning the latter pair could afford to finish second behind the Mercedes and claim the title on countback.

Splitting the two cars on the grid will be the #11 Gainer Nissan, whose drivers Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hironobu Yasuda are 13 points off the head of the standings.

The sixth and final championship-contending car, the ARTA Honda NSX GT3 of Toshiki Oyu and Nobuharu Matsushita, will start from the back row following engine trouble during practice.

GT500 qualifying results:

1

37

TOM'S Toyota

Japan

 Ryo Hirakawa

Japan

 Kenta Yamashita

1m26.722s

1m26.386s

2

39

SARD Toyota

Japan

 Yuichi Nakayama

Finland

 Heikki Kovalainen

1m27.071s

1m26.753s

3

36

TOM'S Toyota

Japan

 Yuhi Sekiguchi

France

 Sacha Fenestraz

1m26.790s

1m26.841s

4

38

Cerumo Toyota

Japan

 Hiroaki Ishiura

Japan

 Yuji Tachikawa

1m27.046s

1m27.039s

5

64

Nakajima Honda

Japan

 Takuya Izawa

Japan

 Hiroki Otsu

1m27.175s

1m27.113s

6

23

NISMO Nissan

Italy

 Ronnie Quintarelli

Japan

 Tsugio Matsuda 

1m27.188s

1m27.130s

7

100

Kunimitsu Honda

Japan

 Naoki Yamamoto

Japan

 Tadasuke Makino

1m27.324s

1m27.229s

8

12

Impul Nissan

Japan

 Daiki Sasaki

Japan

 Kazuki Hiramine

1m27.379s

1m27.647s

9

3

NDDP/B-Max Nissan

Japan

 Kohei Hirate

Japan

 Katsumasa Chiyo

1m27.414s

 

10

19

Bandoh Toyota

Japan

 Yuji Kunimoto

Japan

 Ritomo Miyata

1m27.417s

 

11

8

ARTA Honda

Japan

 Tomoki Nojiri

Japan

 Nirei Fukuzumi

1m27.508s

 

12

17

Real Racing Honda

Japan

 Koudai Tsukakoshi

Belgium

 Bertrand Baguette

1m27.579s

 

13

14

Cerumo Toyota

Japan

 Kazuya Oshima

Japan

 Sho Tsuboi

1m27.723s

 

14

16

Mugen Honda

Japan

 Hideki Mutoh

Japan

 Ukyo Sasahara

1m28.081s

 

15

24

Kondo Nissan

United Kingdom

 Jann Mardenborough

Japan

 Mitsunori Takaboshi

1m28.555s