Reigning GTR WC Drivers Co-Champion Ricardo Llosa will start the season ending Super GP at the High Speed Ring from Pole Position on Sunday.
It will prove crucial if the pairing of Llosa and Jordan McKenna want to successfully defend their championship as they will have clear track for what is their only standing start of the season. It is also crucial for them as they come off the heels of their fourth win of the season and second in a row at Suzuka, putting them in the captain’s seat with the double points on play for the Drivers and Teams championships. The Spaniard would fire off the pole time early in the first qualifying session on Saturday, with nobody improving enough during the second session to put any doubt that the time would stand or not. All drivers in the top 6 overall failed to improve in the second session; the only drivers in that group near the title picture would be Alexandre-Laurent Voeckler starting fifth and Shane Sparks starting on the inside of the front row.
The first driver to improve in the second session would be championship contender Fabian Rei, starting seventh and while only improving by eight hundredths of a second, it would prove enough of a buffer to prevent Llosa’s teammate, Karl Lichter Shultz, from starting ahead of the factory Lister driver and potentially leaving a major hurdle for Rei and co-driver Ryota Wong to overcome on Sunday. However, other title protagonists have themselves a bigger challenge ahead of them come Sunday. Denis van Walwijk, while only two tenths off of his teammate Alexandre-Laurent Voeckler after improving in the second session, is a further seventeen positions down the starting order, leaving him prone to being involved in early collisions. Fellow title protagonist Stefan Kuntz only managed to fair a bit better, starting seventeenth and a second off of Llosa’s pace.
The highest starting independent driver will be Darren Older Jr., coming off of his second Class Victory in his part-time campaign with co-driver Ito Shidehara with the Brit starting fourth on Sunday. The next highest independent driver is Formula 1 Rejects World Race Series driver Kay Lon, who only got his first running of the weekend in the first qualifying session after having to attend to business commitments for the Best In The World clothing line in Tokyo, he starts sixth and a tenth and a half ahead of 2017 Independents Co-Champion and teammate Asim Adhikari.