Lexus set the pace in GT500 for the opening day of Super GT testing at Okayama, with all 6 cars in the top 8, while Mitsunori Takaboshi reeled off two rapid laps to top the GT300 time sheets.
The Red Bull livered KeePer TOM’S Lexus LC500 set the quickest time of the day during the morning session when Ryo Hirakawa lapped the track in 1:18.149, 0.023 seconds slower than his lap record that he set at the beginning of last year. Lexus were largely dominant, locking out the top 6 places for most of the day. However, Koudai Tsukakoshi and Honda spoilt the party late on in the day, setting a lap that put the Keihin car second in the standings for the afternoon and fourth in the standings for the day.
In the end, sunny conditions throughout the day meant that times were similar for both sessions of testing held throughout the day. conditions were also ideal for quick laps, allowing lap times to get close to lap records already.
The #1 Denso Lexus set the second quickest time in the hands of Heikki Kovalainen, which was less than a tenth of a second slower than the quickest lap of the day. The GT500 field was close in general, with the 15 cars seperated by 1.5 seconds. The other TOM’s ran au Lexus set the third quickest time in the hands of Kaz Nakajima in his return to Super GT.
It was a poor day for Nissan, in GT500 at least, as they couldn’t set a time in the 1:18s, and were unable to muster any higher than 9th place, despite the fact Okayama is generally considered a good track for the Nissan in both GT500 and GT300. The Kondo racing car, the fastest Nissan, was barely able to set a lap within a second of the Lexus, and after being the benchmark in the past few years, Nissan may have an uphill struggle to replicate their previous GT500 success. That is of course if the times are representative of the Nissan’s actual pace.
And a lot of frowns at Nissan HQ were probably being turned upside down by their GT300 success. Mitsunori Takaboshi was able to lap Okayama with a 1:25.568, a whopping 30th of a second quicker than the VivaC Toyota 86 MC, the reigning GT300 champions. The other 86 MC, ran by UpGarage set the third quickest time, and the fastest of the morning session, when in the hands of Debutant Shintaro Kawabata, who was able to reel of a time within a tenth of the Takaboshi’s storming time.
It wasn’t a perfect day for the VivaC squad, as they got just 8 laps of running in the morning due to mechanical issues. The 3rd Toyota 86, ran by team Mach, had little success, causing a red flag in the afternoon. Even then, Okayama is normally a quicker circuit for the GT3 contingent.
– Audi Sport Team Hitotsuyama have changed their livery to reflect that of works Audis this year. The car will be primarily a light shade of grey, and is still very much in a works livery.
– The Syntium Lotus will also change liveries, with a shade of dark grey as the base colour with some mint green on the car as well.
– The Honda NSX will be the new safety car for 2017, replacing the Lexus RC F.
Photos Courtesy of AutosportWeb