Super GT The Final Countdown: Watch The Action LIVE
The official qualifying for the MOTEGI GT 250km RACE GRAND FINAL, Round 8 of the 2018 AUTOBACS SUPER GT series, was held at the Motegi Twin Ring Circuit in Tochigi Prefecture on November 10 (Sat.). In the GT500 class, the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT driven by Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa won pole position for the third time this season. Also the season ranking leader, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto/Jenson Button) qualified 2nd to put themselves in good position to go for a first season title. In the GT300 class, the class pole position went to the No. 88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Kazuki Hiramine/Marco Mapelli). In the race for the season’s class title, the 2nd-ranked No. 65 LEON CVSTOS AMG (Haruki Kurosawa/Naoya Gamou) qualified in 2nd position while the 1st-ranked No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Sean Walkinshaw) placed 10th.
As the last round of the season, the 2018 championship titles for both classes will be decided here at Motegi, and the tension of this final competition was in the air from the start of qualifying day for both classes. Also, under the regulation, no cars would be carrying any handicap weights in this final round, making it a true test of the cars’ inherent strength.
In the Q1 session of the GT500 class, former F1 world champion Jenson Button in the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT beat the former course record (1’36.316) with a lap time of 1’36.344 to top the time board. This was followed by the No. 64 Epson Modulo NSX-GT (Kosuke Matsuura) and the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Takuya Izawa) in 2nd and 3rd positions to give the Honda NSX-GT a sweep of the top three spots in Q1.
The NSX-GT cars remained strong in Q2. Tomoki Nojiri in the No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT recorded a record time of 1’35.550 on his last lap to give the team its third pole of the season, following the one in Round 7 at Autopolis. Second and third positions went to the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Naoki Yamamoto) and No. 64 Epson Modulo NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette) respectively to give the NSX-GT its second sweep of the top three positions following the result at the last round at Autopolis. Qualifying 4th was the fastest among the LEXUS LC500 car, the No. 38 ZENT CERUMO LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa), while the fastest NISSAN GT-R NISMO GT500 was the No. 3 CRAFTSPORTS MOTUL GT-R (Satoshi Yamamoto/Katsumasa Chiyo) in 8th position.
In the title race, the ranking leader, the No. 100 RAYBRIG NSX-GT (Yamamoto/Button) qualified 2nd to put it in good position to go for the title, while the 2nd-ranked No. 1 KeePer TOM’S LC500 (Ryo Hirakawa/Nick Cassidy) with the same number of season points qualified in a difficult 6th. The No. 8 ARTA NSX-GT (Nojiri/Izawa) the will start from pole position needs a win in tomorrow’s race to keep their chance of a title alive. The last team with a shot at the title, No. 36 au TOM’S LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi) could only manage to qualify in 14th position, making its title chances slim.
“We desperately wanted this 1 point for our effort to take a come-from-behind season title tomorrow. In the morning official practice, the car’s balance wasn’t very good and I worried that it might be difficult for us to clear Q1, but the team was able to find us a good setting before the qualifying, and between Q1 and Q2 they adjusted it to my preference. So, we were able to take pole position with the team moving in a good direction.” said Tomoki Nojiri.
In the GT300 class, Hiramine in the No. 88 MANEPA LAMBORGHINI GT3 (Kazuki Hiramine/Marco Mapelli) recorded a course record time in Q2 to take pole position. For Hiramine it was his first pole and for the team it was their first since the opening round at Okayama. The second and third qualifiers were the No. 65 LEON CVSTOS AMG (Haruki Kurosawa/Naoya Gamou) and the No. 0 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka), which stand 2nd and 4th respectively in the season ranking, while the GT300 ranking leader, the No. 55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Sean Walkinshaw) could only qualify in 10th position. It thus promises to be a very dramatic title race in the GT300 class.
“This was my first pole position win, so I feel very good.” Kazuki Hiramune said. “I am very grateful that everyone on the team prepared the car so well and that Marco [Mapelli] ran so hard to get us to Q2. In Q2, I drove as hard as I could to live up to everyone’s expectations. I was really very nervous before the qualifying, but once I started driving, I had good grip from the tires, so I was able to attack hard in the timed laps. I’m very happy with this result.”
Once again NISMO TV will provide a live English language coverage of the race with expert commentary from Sam Collins and Leigh O’Gorman. The stream starts at 3:15PM Sunday ARDT or roughly there about as things in Super GT sort of happen in their own unique time/space continuum.