Giuliano Alesi makes Toyota GT500 debut in Okayama

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The French driver was at the wheel of the TOM’S Toyota GR Supra he will share this season with reigning champion Sho Tsuboi on the opening day of a two-day test at the former Pacific Grand Prix venue featuring the majority of the GT500 field.

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A total of 10 cars were present at Okayama, with all five of Toyota’s Bridgestone cars in action along with a full complement of Honda NSX Type S machines.

Nissan was absent from the test, instead running at Fuji Speedway this week with its two works NISMO-operated Michelin-shod Z entries, plus its #230 test car.

The Okayama test marked the first running of the year for the majority of Toyota’s drivers, with the marque having only been represented in last month’s Suzuka test by the Yokohama-shod Racing Project Bandoh Supra – absent this time – and a solo test car shared by Tsuboi, Cerumo man Yuji Tachikawa and Rookie Racing’s Kenta Yamashita.

Notably, Ritomo Miyata had his first experience driving for the Bridgestone-shod TOM’S squad, while Yuhi Sekiguchi, last year’s co-champion alongside Tsuboi, also made his test debut for new team SARD.

Honda’s five teams meanwhile came fresh from last weekend’s Thanks Day fan event at Suzuka, where the revised Type S GT500 challenger was unveiled to the public officially.

Both the Team Kunimitsu machine of Naoki Yamamoto and Tadasuke Makino and the Dunlop-equipped Mugen car of Ukyo Sasahara and Toshiki Oyu were in action for the first time this year, having not been part of either the Suzuka January test or Honda’s private outing at Fuji that featured ARTA, Nakajima Racing and a HRD test car.

Honda newcomer Nobuharu Matsushita racked up further mileage aboard the Real Racing car that he and Koudai Tsukakoshi also drove at Suzuka last month.

Laptimes from the test were not immediately available.

Okayama will play host to the first of two official pre-season SUPER GT tests on March 12-13, a month prior to the season opener at the same venue.

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