The Champion pair win pole position in the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

  • 2013-04-06

    The Champion pair win pole position in the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

    SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT GT300 comes back from barely clearing Q1 to win the GT300 class pole position!

    Round1 Okayama : Qualifying

    On April 6, the qualifying for the Okayama GT 300 Km Race, Round 1 of the 2013 AUTOBACS SUPER GT, was run at the Okayama International Circuit in Okayama Pref. In the GT500 class, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quintarelli won pole position, and the GT300 pole went to the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT driven by Tetsuya Yamano and Kota Sasaki.


    Weather: Rain | Course: Wet


    Two GT-R machines stage an intense time battle with the Epson HSV-010

    This season the official qualifying is run in a different “knock-out” format from last year with two sessions instead of three. In each round, the GT500 class qualifying will consist of a 15-minute first qualifying session (Q1) from which the fastest eight machines will qualify for a 12-minute second session (Q2) where the pole position and the rest of the top eight grid positions are decided.
    Before the start of the qualifying with the GT300 class Q1, a final check of the wind and rain conditions caused a 10-minute delay in the start to 14:10. The GT300 Q1 was also interrupted by three red flags that caused the start of the GT500 Q1 session to be delayed until 15:00.
    Although the wet condition designation remained in effect, the rain had let up slightly by the time the GT500 Q1 session started. Once started, the teams took time warming up their tires, and when their first timed laps began the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Masataka Yanagida), the No. 1 REITO MOLA GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi), the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda) and the No. 32 Epson HSV-010 (Ryo Michigami) were recording fast times. In its second timed lap, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R set a mark of 1’39.393, and then fellow GT-R, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R ran a 1’39.078 lap and the No. 32 Epson HSV-010 clocked in at 1’37.983. Another team also running on Michelin tires, the No. 1 REITO MOLA GT-R, recorded a time 1’37.204 to round out a convincing show of performance.
    After losing the lead to Yanagida again, Sekiguchi returned on the next lap to run a 1’36.118 lap and regain the lead. But, just after that at 3:09, the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Hiroaki Ishiura) ran off the track at the first turn, which brought out the red flag to stop the session.
    This wasn’t the end of the trouble, however. Just after the session was restarted at 3:16 with six minutes remaining, Sekiguchi on the No. 1 REITO MOLA GT-R spun out exiting the hairpin. His machine’s right rear end hit the guardrail and he brought it to a stop, bringing out the red flag for the second time in the session. This resulted in the No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 and now the No. 1 REITO MOLA GT-R, scorer of the fastest time at one point in the session, both ending up having their qualifying times disqualified.
    With the rain having all but stopped at the time of the red flag, most of the teams had returned to the pit to adjust their machine settings and change tires by the time the session was restarted at 3:27 with five minutes remaining.
    Under the new conditions, many teams were making big improvements in their times and the order changed rapidly as a result. The one who emerged with a fastest time of 1’35.373 to top the board was Yanagida on the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R. Meanwhile, Michigami in the No. 32 Epson HSV-010 also dipped under the 1’36 barrier with a fast 1’35.997 to move into the 2nd-place spot. The top eight was filled out by the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R, No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430, No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010, No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010, No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R and the No. 8 ARTA HSV-010, but the No. 18 Weider Modolo HSV-010 and most of the other Lexus machines had a difficult time getting fast laps.
    There had been an announcement that the GT500 Q2 would be run from 4:05, after the conclusion of the GT300 class Q2, but just before the scheduled start the wind and rain grew stronger again, causing another delay. During that delay, the managers of all the GT500 teams were gathered in the control tower for a discussion, where it was decided that the Q2 session would be cancelled and the results from Q1 would stand as the final qualifying results for the GT500 class.
    This meant that the pole position for Sunday’s race went to the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R running on Michelin tires, while the 2nd position went to No. 32 Epson HSV-010 on Dunlop tires. The second row went to Yokohama tire users, the No. 24 D'station ADVAN GT-R and the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430, while two HSV-010 machines on Bridgestone users, the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Toshihiro Kaneishi) and the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010 (Takashi Kogure), got the third row.
    With the two champion drivers from last season now in the pole-sitting car No. 23, tomorrow’s race, it will be interesting to see if they can put together a race that will set them on course toward their second consecutive title. On the other hand, in contrast to the difficult weather conditions of Saturday’s qualifying, it is predicted that the weather in the Okayama area will be better for Sunday’s race. Since this may bring completely different race conditions, there is a good chance the teams that struggled in the rainy qualifier may have to come back strong in the race.
    It looks like tomorrow’s season opener will be a riveting 82 laps to watch from start to finish.







    Sasaki delivers a super lap! The BRZ gets its first pole position

    The GT300 class qualifying will also be competed in a two-session (Q1 and Q2) “knock-out” format in all the races of this season. Q1 will be 15 minutes long, and the top 13 machines emerging from Q1 will go on to compete in the 12-minute Q2.
    This time, Q1 started 10 minutes behind schedule at 14:10. The rain that had begun in the morning repeatedly fell hard at times and less at others, and there was also quite a strong wind blowing to make matters worse. The GT300 Q1 would be run for 15 minutes and the top 13 machines would progress to Q2.
    The track surface was slippery, and shortly after taking to the track, a number of cars could be seen to be slipping considerably. And indeed, it only took until the second lap for the No. 88 MonePa LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Takayuki Aoki) to spin and run off the track at the Moss S turn. The car got stuck and the officials had to raise the red flag at this early stage to stop the session. At 14:25 the session was restarted. The first to break under the 1’50 standard was the No. 33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Tomonobu Fujii) with a 1’48.974 lap time. Then two GT-R teams, the No. 3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Daiki Sasaki), the No. 48 DIJON Racing IS GT-R (Katsumasa Chiyo) and the No. 11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS (Bjorn Wirdheim) and the No. 0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE (Kyosuke Mineo) also scored laps in the 1’48 and 1’47 range.
    Latter in the session, a competition developed between Chiyo in car No. 48 And Mineo in car No. 0. First Chiyo top the sheets with a 1’45.984 lap. Then, Mineo bettered that with a 1’44.957. Chiyo then brought the best time down to 1’45.198, raising anticipation for the next lap.
    Then, the No. 30 IWASAKI apr R8 (Fairuz Fauzy) in 16th position ran off the track and got stuck in the gravel. Again the red flag was raised to stop the session with was just 3 minutes remaining. For borderline teams like the No. 31 Panasonic apr PRIUS GT (Koki Saga) in 14th position and the No. 86 CRYSTAL CROCO LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Shinya Hosokawa) now in 16th position, there would be just one more time attack to try to qualify for Q2. When the green light went on the machines went out onto the track, but perhaps due to the pressure, Hosokawa in car No. 86 made a disastrous spin-out. Although he managed not to crash, the mistake brought out the red flag for the third time in the session. The officials decided that there was not enough time remaining on the clock to enable nay more timed laps, so the Q1 was called at this point. This left the champion Mineo in car No. 0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE at the top of the sheets for Q1. Despite a close call with a 360-degree spin, the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORTS (Yamano) just barely made the cut-off in 13th position to qualify for Q2. For the No. 31 Panasonic apr PRIUS GT in 14th position and those teams below, their qualifying ended at this point.
    Q2 started 35 minutes late at 15:35. The rain felt to be heavier than in Q1, but with just 12 minutes in the session and the ace driver from each team now at the wheel, the times came down one after another. It was the No. 3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshina) came through with a surprisingly fast 1’42.527 on only his second lap to top the time board, followed in order by the No. 0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE (Naoki Yokomizo), the No. 11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS (Katsuyuki Hiranaka), the No. 61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Kota Sasaki) and the No. 4 GSR HATSUNEMIKU BMW.
    In the end, the session came down to a close battle in the lower 1’42 range between Hoshino in car No. 3, Sasaki in No. 61 and Hiranaka in No. 11. Of these, it was Sasaki in car No. 61 who turned in a super lap time of 1’41.040 to leave his rivals a second behind and give the BRZ its first pole position. Following in 2nsd and 3rd respectively were the No. 3 S Road NDDP GT-R and the No. 11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS. The No. 0 ENDLESS TAISAN PORSCHE finished Q2 in 5th position.
    The No. 55 ARTA CR-Z GT team had been struggling desperately to repair the damage suffered by their machine in a serious crash in the morning practice, and although the qualifying was difficult, they were still working hard to complete repairs in time for Sunday’s race.








    GT500 class



    Masataka Yanagida
    This is our first race since Ronnie [Quintarelli] and I moved to the NISMO team. It was also the first race for the team to be working with the two of us, so I was thinking it would be great if we could win the pole. But, since I had only been able to run for a short time in the morning practice, I was hoping to qualify for Q2 so that Ronnie could run there. Because Q2 was cancelled and I ended up winning the PP with my Q1 time, but I’m sure Ronnie would also have won it if Q2 had been run.




    GT300 class



    Kota Sasaki
    It is my first pole position in a while, so I’m very happy. The BRZ made its debut last season but there hadn’t really been enough time for development on it and we weren’t able to get the results we had hoped for. But the team worked hard to make sure that year wasn’t wasted, and the mechanics were working day and night in the days leading up to this season opener. Also, the team has brought in Michelin tires, which may be one of the most important weapons we have now. With all of these efforts going into the preparations for this season, I was thinking that it would be great if we could win pole position in the opening round. Now, I truly think this is a pole that the whole team has won together.