At Suzuka, Rookie Toyota Sets The Fastest Time In The GT500 Field

During the two days of SUPER GT testing at Suzuka Circuit, when all 15 GT500 cars shared a track for the first time this year, Toyota team Rookie Racing set the fastest time.

On Friday morning, marque newcomer Nirei Fukuzumi beat Kenta Yamashita in the No. 36 TOM’S Toyota by 0.204 seconds with the fastest time of the two-day test, 1:43.324, driven by the No. 14 Toyota GR Supra.

With a best time of 1:43.665, Yamashita’s teammate Sho Tsuboi won the first day of competition.

The weather at the previous manufacturers’ tests at Fuji Speedway and Mobility Resort Motegi caused significant delays, therefore the test at Suzuka was moved to six hours a day. Six Toyotas, five Honda Civic Type R-GTs, and four Nissan Zs were tested there.

For the six race cars that took part in the test at Sepang International Circuit in January, it was their first local dry-weather race.

The top four test times were all achieved on Friday morning. Nissan driver Katsumasa Chiyo finished third in the No. 23 NISMO Nissan, 0.011 seconds behind Yamashita, after missing the first day of practice.

Sena Sakaguchi’s Yokohama-shod No. 19 Racing Project Bandoh, the best of the non-Bridgestone runners, finished fourth fastest, 0.396 seconds behind the lead.

With Dunlop tyres, the No. 64 Nakajima Racing car turned in the best lap for Honda, and Takuya Izawa recorded the second-fastest time of the final practice on Friday afternoon, 1:44.035, only surpassed by Yamashita.

The best time from a Bridgestone-shod Honda was 1:44.068, set by Kakunoshin Ohta in the No. 17 Real Racing car. That was just a little bit quicker.

Toshiki Oyu, another rookie Toyota driver who joined Fukuzumi, finished eighth in the No. 38 Cerumo GR Supra, ahead of Bertrand Baguette in the No. 12 Impul Nissan.

Out of the fifteen cars that were present, only the No. 3 NISMO Nissan set a new record on Thursday. Mitsunori Takaboshi finished second fastest, just behind Tsuboi, with a time of 1:44.110, good for ninth place overall.

Ukyo Sasahara drove the No. 37 TOM’S Toyota and completed the combined top 10.

At the wheel of the No. 100 Team Kunimitsu Honda, Naoki Yamamoto could only manage the 13th-fastest time, little over a second off the pace; Nobuharu Matsushita’s No. 8 ARTA Honda finished 15th and last, 1.4 seconds off the pace.

Okayama International Circuit will host the first of two official pre-season testing on March 16–17.

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