> Oyama and Yasuoka end GT4 sessions on top
> Qualifying results
CarGuy Racing’s Kei Cozzolino maintained his 100% qualifying record by clinching a third Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS pole position of the year at Sportsland SUGO this morning.
But while the Ferrari starts Sunday’s race up front, it will be the two Silver Cup entries driven by Tanart Sathienthirakul and Naoki Yokomizo who share this afternoon’s front row after AAS Motorsport’s Porsche narrowly beat Yogibo Racing’s 488 to top spot.
In GT4, Akiland Racing and Masayoshi Oyama will start Race 1 from class pole before GTO Racing’s Hideto Yasuoka – who edged Shinya Hosokawa by just 0.011s – leads the field away tomorrow.
SUGO SETS UP GT3 SILVER CLASS SHOWDOWN
Silver crews enjoy a natural advantage over their Pro-Am counterparts in Q1 so it was no surprise to see Sathienthirakul and Yokomizo disputing pole position. However, the pair didn’t have things all their own way after a red flag period was required with just over five minutes remaining so that David Pun’s stricken X Works Audi could be retrieved.
At that point AAS’s Porsche enjoyed a 0.8s advantage over D’station Racing’s Satoshi Hoshino who had repeatedly reclaimed provisional pole earlier in the 15-minute session. Yogibo’s Ferrari, meanwhile, had only just started its first flying lap when the stoppage occurred, which left Yokomizo with work to do once the action resumed.
Sathienthirakul watched on from the garage as his Japanese rival initially lapped 0.3s slower before having just enough time for one more flying lap. But although it was faster than the Ferrari had gone before, Yokomizo ultimately fell just 0.081s shy of his second pole of the season.
Hoshino’s decision not to rejoin after the red flag was vindicated by heading up row two from CarGuy’s Takeshi Kimura who took fourth just before the stoppage. He was less than a tenth quicker than Team Uematsu’s McLaren driven by Tadao Uematsu who clinched the Am class pole, while Plus with BMW Team Studie’s Tomohide Yamaguchi rounded out the top-six.
But there’s work to do for championship leader Prince Jefri Ibrahim whose lack of track time following Friday’s oil leak contributed towards Triple Eight JMR’s #99 Mercedes-AMG qualifying 12th. What’s more, moving forwards will be made doubly difficult by a 15-second Success Penalty incurred for winning at Fuji.
Q2 was once again all about CarGuy’s Cozzolino who, as is now customary, stole the show late on.
Triple Eight JMR’s Mercedes-AMGs led the way initially with Jazeman Jaafar marginally ahead of Nick Foster before Tomonobu Fujii leapfrogged both by 0.3s. The D’station Aston Martin’s stint at the top was only brief, though, thanks to Seiji Ara who made the most of his one quick run.
The top-three was then covered by 0.1s after Reid Harker slotted EBM Giga Racing’s Porsche in behind the BMW M4.
Cozzolino was, at that stage, down in sixth after building up tyre temperature on his first flying lap – a strategy that has been a feature of the Japanese driver’s strong qualifying form this year. And, sure enough, his next effort revealed the true potential of the Ferrari, which set the fastest time of the weekend so far: 1m20.223s.
That was 0.374s faster than Ara – who also joined Cozzolino on the front row at Suzuka – had managed, while Harker and Fujii remained unchanged behind.
A late effort helped Foster claim bragging rights over his team-mate Jaafar, while the extra ballast of the two Silver entries contributed towards Yogibo’s Kiyoto Fujinami and AAS’s Kantadhee Kusiri sharing row four.
The smallest pole margin of the day came in GT4, but not before Oyama had clinched a convincing Race 1 pole position for Akiland and Toyota.
Three quick laps meant the GR Supra was never headed in Q1 and pulled into the pits with half of the session remaining. GTO Racing’s Brian Lee came closest to beating the time by repeatedly chipping away at his deficit but ultimately fell 0.5s short.
The second session went down to the wire as Hosokawa tried and failed to beat Lee’s co-driver, Yasuoka.
GTO’s Mercedes-AMG initially held sway before Team GMB’s similar example took provisional pole. But back came Yasuoka who then pitted with a 0.169s advantage.
Over to Hosokawa who was frequently fastest of all in the first and second sectors before losing time in the third. His first response narrowed the gap to 0.092s while a quicker lap next time around left him just 0.011s slower.
Race 1 goes green at 16:10 JST (GMT +9). Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel and J Sports in Japan.