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Super Formula Lights delays season opener due to manufacturing issue

by Ida Wood

Photo: Super Formula Lights

Super Formula Lights has announced the postponement of its round at Twin Ring Motegi on April 27/28, which was supposed to be the season opener.

The 2024 calendar for the Formula 3-level series was revealed last November, with the races at Motegi followed by trips to Autopolis (May 17-19), Sportsland SUGO (June 21-23), Fuji Speedway (July 19-21), Okayama (September 13-15) and Suzuka (November 22-24).

In January there was an update as the season finale was brought forward to November 8-10, with confirmation that all six rounds would feature three races.

Hankook was supposed to replace Yokohama as the series’ tyre supplier last year, but a factory fire for the former meant the latter ended up providing grooved tyres and then slicks too through 2023. Now it has given up its position, but to Kumho instead in a two-year deal that was announced this February.

SF Lights has also switched to a spec engine supplier for 2024, having previously featured competition between three different brands, but it is problems from its chassis supplier that has led to the start of its season being delayed. Dallara is updating the bellhousing for this year, but in the manufacturing process of those parts it noticed cracks were appearing.

It has not been specified whether it is the design of the parts or an issue with the manufacturing equipment that has led to these issues, but it has required production to stop. By the time production resumes on bellhousing and those crack-free parts can be shipped in bulk to Japan for use in SF Lights, the planned date for the Motegi round will have already passed.

Since there would be a safety risk in using the cracked parts already produced, the series decided to postpone its Motegi round. It is now in discussions with the circuit and the Japanese federation over an alternative date to ensure the season still runs to 18 races.

Anyone watching pre-season testing would have seen the Dallara 324, the successor to the 320 used for the previous four seasons, being used by teams on track. There are several aerodynamic differences between the two, as well as the upgraded bellhousing, giving the 324 a distinct look from the 320. It is likely some drivers will still campaign the older car this season.

Despite the new-for-2024 design being in use on track already, and being introduced into the iRacing simulator game, Dallara has still not confirmed the 324’s existence.