R&B Racing and Craft-Bamboo bagged a GT3 pole position apiece at Fuji thanks to Leo Ye Hongli and Daniel Juncadella, while Masaki Kano and Manabu Orido helped YZ RACING with BMW Team Studie to sweep GT4 qualifying.
Both GT3 sessions were incredibly close. The first featured as many different manufacturers in the top-seven and 19 cars covered by one second – a number that rose to 22 in the second 15-minute segment that ended with Juncadella taking pole on his final flyer long after the chequered flag had flown.
Dennis Lind had looked odds-on to start from P1 in Climax Racing’s Mercedes-AMG but ultimately missed out by 0.2s to Juncadella’s late 1m38.825s.
Last year’s Race 2 pole winner Kei Cozzolino finished third in CarGuy’s new Ferrari 296 GT3 after initially leading Lind. Just 0.087s separated the pair. Championship leader Alessio Picariello (AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing), like Juncadella, saved his best ‘til last en route to fourth at Richie Stanaway and Triple Eight JMR’s expense, and Dennis Olsen completed the top-six aboard R&B’s Porsche.
GT3’s first session was no less exciting even if its outcome was a little more predictable. Silver-graded drivers Ye and Ling Kang were always likely to beat the large amateur contingent, and so it proved. But they still engaged in a close battle amongst themselves that ultimately saw R&B’s Porsche beat Phantom Pro’s Audi to overall and Fanatec China Cup class pole by 0.075s.
Positions third to 20th were covered by a second, underlining the sheer competitiveness as well as size of this weekend’s 36-strong GT3 field. Pro-Am honours went the way of BINGO SPORTS’s Shinji Takei whose rumbling Corvette shares row two with Craft-Bamboo’s Anthony Liu.
Mineki Okura spent time at the top early on before dropping to fifth in the final reckoning. The Spirit of FFF Racing Lamborghini starts alongside Satoshi Hoshino’s D’station Aston Martin and directly ahead of Plus Racing with BMW Team Studie’s Tomohide Yamaguchi.
The same team, albeit one supported by YZ RACING, completed a GT4 shut out.
Kano finished 1.3s clear of Otsuka’s Checkshop Caymania Porsche to claim Race 1 pole before his co-driver Orido beat Akiland’s Toyota driven by Ryohei Sakaguchi.
The first of this weekend’s two 60-minute races takes place at 14:25 today. Watch it live across Japan on J Sports and around the world via SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.