The fourth round of the Super Taikyu Series powered by Hankook at Autopolis International Racing Course starts at 11:00 JST (local time), 3:00 BST / 4:00 CEST / Saturday 22:00 EDT. You can watch the five-hour race live and uninterrupted on Super Taikyu TV in the video link below, and live timing is also available to follow along with.
In a warm, humid, mid-afternoon qualifying session, the #16 Porsche Center Okazaki 911 GT3-R of Hiroaki Nagai, Yuta Kamimura, and Yuichi Nakayama scored their second overall and ST-X (GT3) class pole position of the season.
Nagai was the fastest gentleman driver in the A Driver segment of qualifying, setting the early pace with a lap of 1’51.807, the only driver in his group to break the 1 minute 52 second threshhold. The top four drivers in the B Driver segment were separated by just four-tenths of a second, and fourth placed Kamimura’s time of 1’49.643 was quick enough to secure the pole for his team, their first since the season opener at Twin Ring Motegi.
The #290 Floral Racing with ABSSA McLaren 720S GT3 qualified in second place. There was a last-minute substitution of gentleman drivers before the event – Teruhiko Hamano replacing Tadao Uematsu, alongside Keita Sawa, Shintaro Kawabata, and Yuji Ide. The #31 apr Racing Lexus RC F GT3 (Hideki Nagai/Koki Saga/Kazuto Kotaka) qualified in third, ahead of the #777 D’station Racing Aston Martin AMR Vantage GT3 (Satoshi Hoshino/Tomonobu Fujii/Tsubasa Kondo) in fourth, the championship leaders carrying 70 kilogrammes of success weight this weekend.
Followed by the two Nissan GT-Rs, the #9 MP Racing GT-R (Joe Shindo/Yusaku Shibata/Masami Kageyama/Keiichi Inoue) in fifth, then the #81 Daishin GTNET GT-R (Noboyuki Oyagi/Takayuki Aoki/Kiyoto Fujinami/Ryuichiro Oyagi), winners of the Fuji Super TEC 24 Hours, in sixth.
Seventh overall and winners of ST-1 class pole position, was the #2 KTM Cars Japan X-Bow GTX (Taiyou Iida/Hiroki Katoh/Kazuho Takahashi/Hiroki Yoshimoto), ahead of the ST-Q class #28 ORC/ROOKIE Racing Toyota GR Supra (Naoya Gamou/Daisuke Toyoda/Yasuhiro Ogura/Kenta Yamashita) which lines up eighth overall on the grid. Second fastest in the ST-1 class was the #38 muta Racing Toyota GR Supra (Sena Sakaguchi/Ryohei Sakaguchi), who was over two and a half seconds adrift of the KTM, but still quick enough for tenth overall.
The ST-Z (GT4) class pole position went to Corolla Shin-Ibaraki (C.S.I) Racing and their #311 Fabulous/GRMI Toyota GR Supra GT4, driven by Hirokazu Suzuki, Kimiya Sato, and Yusuke Shiotsu.
Suzuki narrowly took the top spot in the “A” segment ahead of the #500 Team 5Zigen Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Ryuichiro Otsuka, by just 0.036 seconds. The “B” segment was a GR Supra benefit, with all four Toyotas covered by six-tenths at the top of the board. Sato, in fourth, was quick enough to secure the pole on aggregate.
It’s C.S.I Racing’s second ST-Z pole in succession, they took pole with their #311 GR Supra in the second round at Sugo, but withheld their ST-Z entry from the most recent Fuji 24 Hours.
Second fastest in the class was the returning #111 Hiroshima Toyopet Racing GR Supra (Toshiyuki Matsuda/Yuga Furutani/Yasutaka Hinoi/Ryo Hirakawa), back after withdrawing from Fuji due to concerns over COVID-19 spikes. Furutani was the quickest in the “B” segment, quick enough to secure eleventh on the grid overall. They’ll line up ahead of the #885 Hayashi Telempu Shade Racing GR Supra (Hiro Hayashi/Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Ai Miura), then the 5Zigen AMG GT4 of Otsuka, Toshihiro Kaneishi, Jake Parsons, and Yu Kanamaru. The championship-leading #3 Endless AMG GT4 (Yudai Uchida/Hideki Yamauchi/Togo Suganami/Ryo Ogawa) qualified sixth in class, 17th overall.
The #97 Racer M&K Racing Honda Civic TCR (Mitsuhiro Endo/Shinji Nakano/Syun Koide) took ST-TCR pole position with a 14th place qualifying result.
In the second group, the production categories were led by the ST-2 class #6 Shinryo Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (Tomohiro Tomimasu/Yasushi Kikuchi/Masazumi Ohashi), which qualified 23rd overall.
The Lancer had nearly a four second margin to the #225 Kobe Toyopet Motorsports Toyota GR Yaris (Seita Nonaka/Hibiki Taira/Miki Onaga/Kengo Ichijo), which starts 28th.
The #39 Air Buster/Winmax Lexus RC 350 (Yusuke Tomibayashi/Kazuya Oshima/Hirotaka Ishii) qualified 24th overall, taking the ST-3 class pole by half a second ahead of the #52 Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave Toyota Crown RS (Naoki Hattori/Hiroki Yoshida/Kohta Kawaai) behind them.
C.S.I Racing doubled up on class pole positions, with their #310 GR Garage Mito Inter Toyota 86 (Sho Tsuboi/Shinya Hosokawa/Fuma Horio) edging out the #884 Shade Racing 86 (Yuji Kunimoto/Keishi Ishikawa/Eijiro Shimizu) for the ST-4 class pole (33rd overall).
The aggregate times of Tsuboi/Hosokawa and Kunimoto/Ishikawa were separated by just 0.052 seconds!
The ST-5 class pole (38th overall) went to the #456 Avantech Racing Team Mazda Roadster (Riku Hashimoto/Kousei Kanto/Tatsuya Osaki/Koji Obara), ahead of the #72 Nihon Automobile College Roadster (Makoto Kanai/Anna Inotsume/Tatsuya Okahara).
The hydrogen powered #32 ROOKIE Racing Toyota Corolla Sport H2 Concept qualified 37th, placing them just ahead of all the ST-5 class runners. Masahiro Sasaki set a best lap of 2’09.992. Sasaki, Takuto Iguchi, Takamitsu Matsui, and Toyota president Akio “Morizo” Toyoda will aim to finish the five-hour race after successfully taking the chequered flag at the Fuji 24 Hours.
Images courtesy of Naoyuki Hata and the Super Taikyu Organisation (STO)