The No.6 GT500 Eneos Sustina RC F Lexus of Kazuya Oshima and Yuji Kunimoto has claimed pole position for the Super GT Okayama GT 300km race, with the No.31 OGT Panasonic Toyota Prius taking GT300 pole.
The first qualifying round of 2014 was a close affair, with the GT500 cars breaking the Okayama lap record not just once, but 15 times. At the end of qualifying one, which despite forecasts remained dry, Daisuke Ito in the KeePer TOM’S Lexus RC F set the fastest time of 1:19.862, breaking the previous lap record of 1:22.404 from 2004.
With the threat of rain once again looming for Q2, Oshima ran from the offset and after only four laps set a blistering time of 1:19.404, with only Joao Paulo de Oliveira in the No. 12 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R getting close to Oshima on a 1:19.474. Further back, the No.17 Kehin Honda NSX CONCEPT-GT was the first of the Honda’s qualifying in seventh position, 0.772 off Oshima.
In the GT300 class, Morio Nitta in the No. 31 OGT Panasonic Toyota Prius laid down a new lap record for the class at Okayama on a 1:26.774, with the No.4 Goodsmile Hatsunemiku BMW Z4 of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataok in second.
Talking after the session Oshima said: “To be honest, I didn’t expect to be able to run such a fast time. In Q1 [Yuji] Kunimoto ran a good time despite some machine trouble, so I was actually feeling pressure. I haven’t gone into a qualifying session with this much tension and excitement in a long time.
“But, I was able to keep from letting over-excitement ruin my session and succeeded in getting pole position. Things were going well from our first shakedown here at Okayama, but that was only because everyone on the team was working hard almost through the night, day after day. I’m glad I was able to get pole position and pay them pack for all that effort.”
GT300 pole winner Nitta after the session said: “From the pre-season tests, things had been going well and we had been getting good times. But, since we were running with different settings from the ones we used in the Okayama tests, there were also some worries. It is thanks to the great machine that the team has prepared coming into this season opener, and the great tires that Yokohama Tire prepared for us, that we were able to get pole position. I hadn’t really expected to see a top time in the 1:26 range in Q1, but by pulling out all the stops and pressing hard, I was able to get there.”