The official qualifying for the "42nd International Pokka Sapporo 1000km," Round 5 of the AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held on Aug. 17 at Suzuka circuit (5.907km/lap) in Mie prefecture. In the GT500 class the MOTUL AUTECH GT-R driven by Masataka Yanagida and Ronnie Quinarelli won pole position. In the GT300 class, the No.81 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Tetsuya Yamano/Kota Sasaki/Takuto Iguchi) won the class pole position.

■ One attack puts Weider Modulo HSV-010 on top
The summer sun was blazing at Suzuka circuit when the knock-out style official qualifying began at 2 p.m., with the air temperature at 35℃, and the road surface temperature at 47℃. Following the GT300 class Q1, the GT500 class Q1 session began at 2:15 p.m.

In the 15-minute session, the fastest eight cars would win the right to move on to Q2. As usual, when the GT500 class time board was displayed, the teams waited for the right timing to leave their pits. At 2:19, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Masataka Yanagida) was the first to leave the pit, followed by No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 (Andre Couto), and the No. 8 ARTA HSV-010 (Ralph Firman).

The remaining machines waited until the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R and No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 began their timed laps at 2:22, and then all twelve machines entered the course at once.

The No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R came in with a time of 1'54.789 to take the top position on the second time lap, but that was immediately bettered by the No. 19 WedsSport ADVAN SC430 with a time of 1'54.250. During this time the machines that entered later warmed up their tires, and with three minutes remaining in the session the standings began to change rapidly. The No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R took the top position again with a 1'53.101, while the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Kouhei Hirate) sat in second position with a 1'53.226, but with two minutes remaining the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 (Yuji Kunimoto) took the top position with a 1'53.040 lap. Meanwhile, the No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (James Rossiter), No. 37 KeePer TOM'S SC430 (Daisuke Ito) and the No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 (Frederic Makowiecki) came in 4th to 6th with times in the 1'53 range.

With less than one minute remaining, it seemed as though the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 would take the provisional pole position. However, in a final attack after the checker flag was shown, the No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 took first position with a time of 1'52.694. The No. 8 ENEOS SUSTINA S430 qualified second, and the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430, also improving on its time in the final lap, finished third with a 1'53.058. With these results, the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 and the remaining top eight machines cleared Q1. However, the No. 1 REITO MOLA GT-R (Yuhi Sekiguchi) finished 9th despite showing strength in the official practice session and was unable to continue on to Q2, and the same was true with No. 39 DENSO KOBELCO SC430 (Juichi Wakisaki) and No. 12 CALSONIC IMPUL GT-R (Joao Paulo de Oliveira).

■ Michelin Tire teams compete for pole position
The 12-minute Q2 session began at 3 p.m. With the summer sun still glaring, Michelin teams No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 (Naoki Yamamoto) and the No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R (Ronnie Quintarelli) left the pit with less than nine minutes remaining. A few moments later the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430 (Kazuya Oshima) and No. 37 KeePer TOM'S SC430 (Andrea Caldarelli) followed, and finally the last to go out was the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 (Yuji Tachikawa).

The No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R took the initiative by entering its timed laps first, but the battle intensified with three minutes remaining in the session. First, the No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 (Naoki Yamamoto) recorded the fastest time at 1'52.359, but this was immediately beaten by the No. 29 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R's Quintarelli with a 1'52.157 lap.

After this, although the No. 6 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430, No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430 (Kazuki Nakajima) and the No. 17 KEIHIN HSV-010 (Koudai Tsukakoshi) all recorded times in the 1'52 range, the session ended with none able to beat the Michelin tire teams in first and second positions. The No. 23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R team won their second PP of the season following the one in the first round, with the No. 18 Weider Modulo HSV-010 qualifying second. In third to fifth places were the Lexus teams No. 36 PETRONAS TOM'S SC430, No. 38 ZENT CERUMO SC430 and the No. 8 ENEOS SUSTINA SC430, and the No. 100 RAYBRIG HSV-010, present leader in the point standings, ended in 8th place.

■ SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT hugely successful in Q1 round
The 36℃ summer heat was representative of the Pokka Sapporo 1000km. The GT300 class Q1 began at exactly 2 p.m. The duration was 15 minutes. The system is a rough knock-out, with the top 13 machines continuing on to Q2.

As the road surface temperature was very high at 47℃, it was expected that machines would forego the early part of the session as in the GT500 class. However, this was not the case. Only the No. 87 LA SEINE LAMBORGHINI GT3 remained in the pit, perhaps due to technical trouble.

Just past five minutes into the session, Tetsuya Yamano in the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT that has won three pole positions in four rounds so far posted a time of 2'04.317 to top the class time board and become the target for the other teams. Following with the second fastest time was the No.22 GREENTEC SLS AMG GT3 (Hisashi Wada), posting a 2'04.489. As the times came down, first into the 2'03 and then the 2'02 range, the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT suddenly came through with a time of 2'01.481 that shocked everyone on the paddock. This time already rewrote the course record teammate Kota Sasaki had recorded in the morning. And, just after this, the No.52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS (Takeshi Tsuchiya) posted to move into second position was a 2'03.121. The Subaru cars have been consistently fast at Suzuka, but this new record was in a class by itself. After scoring this fast lap, the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT didn't even wait for the end of the Q1 session to return to the pit. In the end, no one was able to beat this time, so the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT finished the session in first position.

Second fastest in the session was the No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Kazuki Hoshino), which managed to beat out the No.52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS by recording a 2'02.871 time in the last five minutes of the session. The fourth fastest with a time of 2'03.229 was the winner of the last two rounds, the No.55 ARTA CR-Z GT (Takashi Kobayashi), and in 5th place came the No.50 Exe Aston Martin (Ryouhei Sakaguchi), the same Aston Martin that won this Suzuka race last year.

The point leading No.16 MUGEN CR-Z GT (Yuhki Nakayama) suffered from suspension trouble in the latter half and ended up just 0.062 seconds short of the time of the No.9 NAC KOUKAKUKIDOUTAI ARAISE DR PORSCHE (Shogo Mitsuyama) in 13th position and thus failed to move on to Q2. Other teams that failed to make the cut included the winner of the first round of the season, the No.11 GAINER DIXEL SLS (Bjorn Wirdheim), and the No.4 GSRHATSUNRMIKU BMW (Nobuteru Taniguchi). The winner of round three, the No.31 Panasonic apr PRIUS GT (Morio Nitta), also suffered from rear suspension trouble that prevented it from making all but a few runs. After running off the track once in the early stages, the No.88 ManePa LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Takayuki Aoki) wasn't able to recover to strong form, and the No.87 LA SEINE LAMBORGHINI GT3 was also comparatively slow and only ran one lap. In this way, a good number of the stronger teams were unable to get trough to Q2.

■ The SLS, GT-R and the Aston Martin show top form
The GT300 class Q2 started on schedule at 2:40. This 12-minute session would determine the pole position. Six minutes into the session, the Mercedes-Benz SLS that has been consistently fast here at Suzuka lived up to that reputation when the No.62 LEON SLS (Haruki Kurosawa) posted a fastest time of 2'03.267. Following in 2nd position was the No.22 GREENTEC SLS AMG GT3 (Masaki Jyonai) and then the No.52 OKINAWA-IMP SLS (Hironori Takeuchi). At this point, the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT (Kota Sasaki) was still back in 6th position with a time in the 2'06 range.

But, on the next lap the No.61 SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT made a serious timed lap attack. On it, Sasaki recorded a time of 2'01.802 to take the top spot, hands down. Then on the next lap he bettered that with a 2'01.693. For all the cars except the blue BRZ, a time in the 2'01 range was simply beyond reach. In the end, the Subaru blew the competition away as it had done in Q1 to claim consecutive pole positions. This was the fourth pole position of the season for the SUBARU BRZ R&D SPORT team. This tied the record for most pole positions in a single season.

The battle for 2nd was competed in the 2'02 range. In the last three minutes, the No.50 Exe Aston Martin (Hideto Yasuoka) moved up to 2nd with a time of 2'02.680. But, in the last minute of the session, the No.3 S Road NDDP GT-R (Daiki Sasaki) ran a 2'02.475 lap to move ahead of No.50. Claiming 4th position with effectively only one timed lap of 2'03.109 was the No.33 HANKOOK PORSCHE (Tomonobu Fujii). The No.55 ARTA CR-Z GT (Shinichi Takagi) presently on a two-race winning streak managed to place 8th with a time of 2'03.573.