The #777 D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii, and Tsubasa Kondo has taken pole position for Sunday’s Motegi Super Taikyu 5 Hour Race at Twin Ring Motegi, in a race weekend where ST-X (FIA GT3) class championship leaders GTNET Motor Sports did not enter.
Rather than risk an accident at the difficult 4.8-kilometre circuit, notoriously punishing on brakes, the #1 GTNET Nissan GT-R GT3 has elected to sit this race out, holding a 48.5 point lead in the championship with 2 races left.
That’s given the D’station Vantage, which also missed a round, the Fuji Super TEC 24 Hours, to prepare for Le Mans, the initiative needed to keep the title fight alive going into the season finale this November at Okayama International Circuit.
Hoshino finished 2nd in the first round of aggregate qualifying behind the #83 X Works Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Tse Ka Hing, while Fujii was fastest in the second round of qualifying, six-tenths up on Shawn Thong in the #83 X Works Audi. The combined times of Hoshino and Fujii put them and Tsubasa Kondo on pole for the first time this season, while the X Works Audi of Tse, Thong, and Philip Tang qualifies on the front row for the first time as well!
The #244 Max Racing Lexus RC F GT3 (Toru Tanaka/Tetsuya Tanaka/Kimiya Sato) qualified third, while the sole remaining Nissan, the #9 MP Racing GT-R (Joe Shindo/Yusaku Shibata/Masami Kageyama/Keiichi Inoue) starts fourth.
Either the D’station Vantage or the MP Racing GT-R have to win Sunday’s race to extend the battle for the ST-X Championship to Okayama, otherwise, the championship will be decided in favour of GTNET Motor Sports for the second straight season.
After the #2 K’s Frontier Syntium KTM X-Bow GT4 crashed out of Autopolis and brought the ST-Z (FIA GT4) title fight to a somewhat anti-climactic conclusion, the KTM of Taiyou Iida, Hiroki Katoh, and Takashi Kobayashi took pole position in class, hoping to finally pick up their first win of the season.
The championship-winning #3 Endless Mercedes-AMG GT4 (Yuudai Uchida/Hideki Yamauchi/Tsubasa Takahashi), despite heavy success ballast, qualified second in class, hoping to win its fifth consecutive race this season.
Over in ST-TCR, Audis locked down the top three spots on the grid in their class, headed up by the #65 Phenomen Team Mars RS3 LMS (Taketoshi Matsui/Masanobu Kato/Masato Shimoyama/Daisuke Imamura) in first, the #22 Waimarama Kizuna RS3 LMS (Kazutomo Robert Hori/Katsumasa Chiyo/Kizuna/Lee Jung Woo) in second, and the wildcard entry #33 Audi Driving Experience RS3 (Hideki Nakahara/Masataka Yanagida/Ryuichiro Tomita) in third.
Meanwhile, the #97 Modulo Honda Civic TCR (Tadao Uematsu/Shinji Nakano/Mitsuhiro Endo/Hiroki Otsu) qualified fourth, best of the Hondas on their “home circuit” and needing a second consecutive victory to remain in a fierce fight for the ST-TCR title going into the finale at Okayama!
ST-1 class pole position went to the newly-crowned champions’ #47 D’station Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Tatsuya Hoshino/Manabu Orido/Kenji Hama) who beat out the #998 Z-Rex Advics Tracy Sports Audi R8 LMS Cup (Jeffrey Zee/Jason Zhang/Leo Ye/Simon Chen) despite carrying heavy ballast.
History could be made this weekend in the ST-2 class, where the #59 DAMD Motul Subaru WRX STI (Manabu Osawa/Hitoshi Gotoh/Takuto Iguchi/Mizuki Ishizaka) won pole position in its class, and with a class victory, TOWA INTEC Racing could become the first team in Super Taikyu history to win seven consecutive championships in a single class, breaking the mark set by the Petronas Syntium Team from 2008 to 2013.
The #6 Shinryo Auto/Dixcel Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (Tomohiro Tomimasu/Yasushi Kikuchi/Masazumi Ohashi), while in its debut, the new #743 Honda R&D Challenge Civic Type R FK8 qualified fourth, with a driver lineup comprised of automotive journalist Hitoshi Sezai, and Honda R&D Center engineers Junichi Kidachi, Tetsuaki Mochizuki, and Hideki Kakinuma, the man who led the development of the current-gen Civic Type R.
In ST-3, the #68 Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave Toyota Mark X of Naoki Hattori, Shigekazu Wakisaka, and Hiroki Yoshida edged out the #62 Denso Le Beausset Lexus RC 350 of Koki Saga, Ryo Ogawa, and new WEC star Kenta Yamashita for pole position in class. The #34 Techno First RC 350 (Yuya Tezuka/Shuji Maejima/Riki Okusa), ST-3 class points leaders, qualified 3rd in class.
The Group 2 bracket will be led for the fifth time in as many races this year by the #86 TOM’s Spirit Toyota 86 (Sho Tsuboi/Yuichi Nakayama/Takamitsu Matsui), on pole position ahead of the #310 GR Garage Mito Inter 86 (Rintaro Kubo/Shinya Hosokawa/Hirokazu Suzuki) 2nd and the #884 Hayashi Telempu Shade Racing 86 (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Yuji Kunimoto/Hiro Hayashi/Keishi Ishikawa), the points leading team in 3rd.
And in ST-5, it was a jazzy day for the #4 Bride Honda Fit RS3 (Hidefumi Minami/Seijiro Aihara/Tetsuya Moriyama/Shunsuke Sato) which took pole position in class – gaining one point in a title fight where the top six teams are separated by just 15 points!
Sunday’s race will be carried live on the Super Taikyu TV YouTube Live channel and starts at noon JST (local time).
Images courtesy of the Super Taikyu Organisation (STO)