Home News Nojiri on pole, Hirakawa crashes in Super Formula Autopolis qualifying

Nojiri on pole, Hirakawa crashes in Super Formula Autopolis qualifying

by Elliot Wood

Tomoki Nojiri took his first Super Formula pole since 2018 in a crazy qualifying at Autopolis.

Nick Cassidy was first to set a lap in Group A in Q1, but with one minute to go his unrepresentative effort still stood as the fastest.

Tadasuke Makino then became the first driver to lap at true qualifying pace, with Nirei Fukuzumi going faster and Yuhi Sekugichi slotting in behind.

Hiroaki Ishiura went third with 20s to go, just as red flags were waved after Yuichi Nakayama spun off. This hurt series returnee Nobuaru Matsushita, whose first flying lap came in after the flags appeared.

The session was restarted though, enabling Matsushita to set a lap good enough for seventh and therefore progressing to Q2, while Cassidy went fastest at the very end.

It was a similar story in Group B, though this time Naoki Yamamoto was smart enough to put a genuine flying lap down early on. It was worth it, as only he and Toshiki Oyu had lapped before points leader Ryo Hirakawa crashed and caused a red flag.

Oyu’s lap also came in too late, but he rebounded when the session restarted to go second fastest behind Yamamoto. Hirakawa, who has two poles this year, will start the race from the back row.

Everyone took the risk again in Q2, with Makino the only to even set an outlap before the final two minutes.

The first flying lap came with 40s to go, set by returning rookie Ritomo Miyata. By going early it actually proved an advantage, as on his next lap he improved to go joint fastest with Yamamoto.

A flurry of laps came in after the chequered flag, with Matsushita and Sho Tsuboi jumping from the bottom of the timesheet to make the top-eight Q3 shootout.

Yamamoto got a lap in early in Q3, but one that was off the pace, and once more it came down to a battle in the final moments. Having set a lap before the chequered flag, Dandelion’s Fukuzumi and Yamamoto and Mugen’s Nojiri were the only three really in contention, and it was Nojiri who prevailed with his second effort by 0.015s over Fukuzumi.

Tsuboi will fill row two alongside Yamamoto, with Ishiura and Matsushita impressing to go fifth and sixth, while Cassidy missed the window to set a lap.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1m25.707s 1m24.762s 1m24.140s
2 Nirei Fukuzumi Dandelion Racing 1m25.152s 1m24.667s 1m24.155s
3 Naoki Yamamoto Dandelion Racing 1m24.693s 1m24.544s 1m24.257s
4 Sho Tsuboi INGING 1m25.152s 1m24.683s 1m24.686s
5 Hiroaki Ishiura INGING 1m25.725s 1m25.080s 1m24.783s
6 Nobuharu Matsushita B-MAX w/ Motopark 1m25.908s 1m24.762s 1m25.305s
7 Ritomo Miyata TOM’S 1m25.057s 1m24.544s 1m25.601s
8 Nick Cassidy TOM’S 1m24.907s 1m24.681s no time
9 Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing 1m25.857s 1m24.873s
10 Hiroaki Ishiura INGING 1m25.725s 1m25.080s
11 Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 1m24.960s 1m25.146s
12 Tadasuke Makino Nakajima Racinfg 1m25.619s 1m25.155s
13 Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 1m25.582s 1m25.193s
14 Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen 1m25.223s 1m25.634s
15 Kazuya Oshima ROOKIE Racing 1m25.889s
16 Yuhi Sekugichi Team Impul 1m26.835s
17 Charles Milesi B-MAX w/ Motopark 1m26.336s
18 Tatiana Calderon ThreeBond w/ Drago Corse 1m27.168s
19 Yuichi Nakayama KCMG 1m37.349s
20 Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 1m54.629s