Mardenborough and Mitsunori Takaboshi qualified their #24 Nissan GT-R fourth for the third visit of the 2020 campaign to Fuji, with Mardenborough setting a time in Q2 0.679s shy of the pole-winning ARTA Honda NSX-GT of Nirei Fukuzumi.
The Kondo Nissan is the second-lightest car in the GT500 field this weekend, heavier only than the Impul GT-R that is carrying no success handicap at all, as a result of Mardenborough and Takaboshi not scoring points in the last three races.
But after an encouraging turn of speed in qualifying and making it through to the eight-car Q2 shootout for the first time this year, Mardenborough feels that Kondo’s long-run pace on the Yokohama tyre is also good enough for contend for honours on race day.
“Our car has been improving since Round 3 [at Suzuka], we just haven’t had the luck in qualifying and the races, we haven’t had a chance to show our performance,” said Mardenborough, who made his first Q2 outing since last year’s Okayama opener.
“From practice the car has been strong and consistent. [Takaboshi] did the time in Q1 to get through to Q2, and put the pressure on me, and I was able to get P4. To be on the second row is good, and I’m very pleased we can show our performance.
“The car is completely different to what we had in Rounds 1 and 2 [also at Fuji]. It’s like turning up here with a completely new car.”
Asked for his goals on Sunday, he added: “Win the race! I think it’s achievable. We’ve got good speed. There’s no reason why not.
“We just to have make sure we have a good clean start, no contact as we’ve had contact in the last two races, good strategy. And then we can fight for victory.”
Mardenborough said that while Fukuzumi’s pole time was out of reach in qualifying, he felt a spot on the front row may have been achievable.
Instead, the Kondo Nissan will be starting behind the Impul Nissan and the Bandoh Toyota, which is also running on Yokohama tyres.
“We didn’t have enough for pole; we can’t quite match the Bridgestone with the Yokohama, that’s just pure grip,” said the Briton. “But P2, top Nissan, was possible.
“There are some things to discuss with the team about what the car was doing, especially in sector three. So we didn’t maximise the lap.”
#24 Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R: Mitsunori Takaboshi, Jann Mardenborough
Photo by: Masahide Kamio