Home News Kobayashi returns to top first Super Formula practice at Suzuka

Kobayashi returns to top first Super Formula practice at Suzuka

by Tim Lumb

Photo: KCMG

Kamui Kobayashi returned to Super Formula after missing the fourth round and topped the first practice session of the weekend at Suzuka.

There was a flurry of personal best lap times set in the final five minutes after Naoki Yamamoto was the fastest for the majority of the 60-minute session, setting his best lap on his second lap out of the pits.

Kobayashi set the benchmark laptime of 1m35.962s with a couple minutes to go. Team Mugen’s Tomoki Nojiri – who won the final race of 2019 at Suzuka – was the closest to matching this on his final lap of the session, but was 0.033 seconds short.

New Super GT champion Tadasuke Makino was just 0.012s behind Nojiri with the third-fastest time for Nakajima Racing, while Kenta Yamashita was fourth fastest in the session for Kondo Racing.

Championship leader Ryo Hirakawa went fifth on his final lap, while the early effort from Yamamoto – who won the Super GT title alongside Makino – was still good enough to keep him sixth by the end of the session.

Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG) and Ukyo Sasahara (Mugen) were seventh and eighth fastest respectively, while ROOKIE Racing’s Kazuya Oshima was ninth.

Nick Cassidy, who earlier in the week took part in Formula E pre-season testing at Valencia Ricardo Tormo ahead of his rookie campaign there with Virgin Racing, rounded out the top 10 after flying back to Japan from Spain in time to compete.

B-MAX Racing with Motopark had a troubled session, as Charles Milesi caused a red flag and Nobuharu Matsushita also had a brief problem.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Kamui Kobayashi KCMG 1m35.962s 21
2 Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1m35.995s +0.033s 16
3 Tadasuke Makino Nakajima Racing 1m36.007s +0.045s 16
4 Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 1m36.441s +0.479s 16
5 Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 1m36.535s +0.573s 14
6 Naoki Yamamoto Dandelion Racing 1m36.669s +0.737s 12
7 Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 1m36.768s +0.806s 17
8 Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen 1m37.086s +1.124s 19
9 Kazuya Oshima ROOKIE Racing 1m37.307s +1.345s 17
10 Nick Cassidy TOM’S 1m37.456s +1.494s 15
11 Sho Tsuboi INGING 1m37.543s +1.581s 17
12 Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 1m37.544s +1.582s 13
13 Nobuharu Matsushita B-MAX Racing w/ Motopark 1m37.575s +1.613s 13
14 Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing 1m37.614s +1.652s 18
15 Nirei Fukuzumi Dandelion Racing 1m37.675s +1.713s 15
16 Kazuki Nakajima TOM’S 1m37.677s +1.715s 19
17 Hiroaki Ishiura INGING 1m37.747s +1.785s 16
18 Toshiki Oyu Nakajima Racing 1m37.938s +1.976s 19
19 Tatiana Calderon ThreeBond w/ Drago Corse 1m39.875s +3.913s 20
20 Charles Milesi B-MAX Racing w/ Motopark 1m40.288s +4.326s 10