> Result: Qualifying
Kelvin van der Linde’s new qualifying lap record has helped Audi Sport Team WRT qualify fastest for this afternoon’s Suzuka 10 Hours Pole Shootout.
Times combined from three 15-minute sessions – one per each entry’s driver – determined who would be fighting for top spot ahead of Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s fourth round in Japan. And it was Van der Linde’s 2m01.494s Q2 benchmark that helped the R8 he shares with Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch to claim provisional pole by 0.8s.
The rest of the top-10 was covered by 0.5s, while 2.2s separated second place from SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG in 20th, which topped a red flag-interrupted Q1 in the hands of Nico Bastian.
2018 pole-winners HubAuto Corsa are also contenders after Nick Foster – who claimed that pole 12 months ago – posted the second fastest time of all. That helped the Ferrari also featuring Super GT champions Nick Cassidy and Heikki Kovalainen move from sixth to second and ultimately finish just 0.005s ahead of Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMG.
Car Guy Racing’s Ferrari features two factory drivers, but it was the team’s long-time Japanese recruit Kei Cozzolino who set the car’s fastest time en route to a cumulative fourth overall.
KCMG’s predominantly Japanese crew led Nissan’s charge in fifth, although the squad’s second full-season line-up wasn’t too far behind either.
Both Bentleys also made the cut, #107 ahead of #108, along with Walkenhorst and Schnitzer’s BMWs.
WRT’s R8 was joined by Audi’s sister Intercontinental nominations entered by Absolute Racing and Team Hitotsuyama, while the other three #IntGTC Mercedes-AMGs fielded by GruppeM Racing, Goodsmile Racing and Strakka also made it through. The latter was a late addition to the top-20 thanks to Tristan Vautier whose Q3 time helped last year’s Suzuka 10 Hours winner move from 21st to 19th.
Honda will be represented on home soil by their factory Team Motul squad, while Absolute Racing’s Bathurst 12 Hour-winning crew of Dennis Olsen, Dirk Werner and Matt Campbell will be Porsche’s sole top-20 contender. That was largely thanks to EBM’s Q1 puncture, which contributed towards #911 finishing 24th.
Pole Shootout begins at 17:35. Watch it live right here on the championship’s website.