Sawa and Juncadella share Suzuka poles

Sawa and Juncadella share Suzuka poles

> Abssa and Craft-Bamboo start rounds five and six up front
> GT4 poles for BMW M Team Studie and Akiland Racing Toyota 
> Result: Suzuka Qualifying

Abssa Racing’s Keita Sawa and Craft-Bamboo’s Dani Juncadella will start this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS races from pole position after topping this morning’s qualifying sessions at Suzuka.

Sawa was one of three Silver-graded drivers to tackle Q1 and duly justified his status by setting fastest time, albeit after Ling Kang’s best lap was deleted for a track limits infringement.

Abssa’s McLaren led the early exchanges before a stoppage was required to recover the spun NK Racing and Porsche Center Okazaki 911s.

Roughly eight minutes remained when the session resumed. Sawa, content with his time, opted against setting another lap. And although Ling’s Phantom Pro Audi provisionally beat it by 0.4s, the lap was ultimately removed.

Team 5ZIGEN’s Nissan looked good in yesterday’s practice sessions and Hirobon confirmed its potential again by setting the second quickest legal time. He was also the fastest Am driver but missed out on pole by just 0.023s.

Lu Wei was the highest placed championship contender in third, R&B’s Porsche finishing ahead of the reclassified Ling, Anthony Liu (Craft-Bamboo) and Bian Ye (Climax Racing). Yuan Bo made it five Chinese drivers inside the top-seven.

The championship’s top-two struggled, though, with Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak and Abu Bakar Ibrahim managing only 15th and 16th respectively.

A red flag also stunted what should have been a blockbuster Pro session. However, as at Suzuka, it was Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMG that came out on top.

Juncadella had just taken provisional pole when Tsubasa Kondo spun into 130R’s barriers. After being untangled the Porsche drove away from the scene of its accident relatively unscathed before Q2 resumed with eight minutes remaining.

The field piled out of the pits in a long line but somehow Triple Eight JMR’s Luca Stolz found the space to beat Juncadella’s earlier time on his first flyer. Unfortunately, for the German at least, Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMG was going even faster behind and duly reclaimed pole by 0.2s.

Mercedes-AMG drivers completed the top-three thanks to Maximilian Goetz in Craft-Bamboo’s second entry, while Patrick Pilet – who subs for Dennis Olsen this weekend – added fourth place to R&B co-driver Lu’s third.

Dennis Lind (Climax Racing) and Alvaro Parente (HUBAUTO RACING) rounded out the top-six.

The earlier GT4 sessions were topped by BMW M Team Studie and Akiland Racing. Masaki Kano was untroubled during Q1, but the second 15-minute session produced a dramatic battle between Max Orido and Ryohei Sakaguchi.  

The BMW set the early pace before the Toyota closed to within one tenth. Orido pitted after but Sakaguchi continued and snatched pole by just 0.059s.

Race 1 goes green at 14:20 local time today. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel and across Japan on J Sports.