Home News Taira fastest before rain hits practice for SF Lights’ Autopolis opener

Taira fastest before rain hits practice for SF Lights’ Autopolis opener

by Ida Wood

Photo: Super Formula Lights

The Super Formula Lights season has got underway at Autopolis, with two days of practice for the Formula 3-level series ahead of the first races of 2023 this weekend.

Every driver set their fastest lap in the opening session on Thursday morning, held in dry but cloudy conditions, and Hibiki Taira was fastest by 0.517 seconds.

Taira’s benchmark 1m40.402s effort was his fourth lap of the session, and he set 28 in total in FP1. It was a similar story across the field, as everyone’s personal bests came within their first 10 laps of being on track.

FIA Formula 3 convert David Vidales only set nine laps in total but was second fastest for B-MAX Racing, and his team-mate Iori Kimura – the highest placed returnee from last season – was the only other driver within a second of the pace.

There were 14 cars entered into practice, but B-MAX’s Togo Suganami failed to get on track in his ThreeBond Tomei-powered car.

Rain hit the track in time for FP2 in the afternoon, and laptime were over 12 seconds slower than earlier in the day.

Kimura was fastest by 0.352s over team-mate Syun Koide, with TOM’S driver Enzo Trulli 0.801s back in third and his team-mates Seita Nonaka and Taira closely matched in fourth and fifth.

Aside from Masters classification drivers Nobuhiro Imada and Takashi Hata who joined Suganami in missing the session, most drivers actually completed more laps than they did in FP1.

It was still wet when FP3 begun on Friday morning, and only seven drivers set flying laps. Koide led Trulli by 1.517s, with B-MAX’s Igor Fraga 0.004s further behind. Vidales, Yuga Furutani (TOM’S) and Nonaka all lapped close to Trulli’s pace.

Practice concluded in the afternoon with another wet session and mixed strategies on how to utilise it. Koide was fastest again, going to the top by 0.047s with his fifth and final lap.

Vidales was second, Taira was 0.468s back in third, and Kimura and Furutani were both over 0.8s off Koide’s pace in fourth and fifth. This time 11 drivers set flying laps.

Free practice results
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Hibiki Taira TOM’S 1m40.402s 73
2 David Vidales B-MAX Racing 1m40.919s +0.517s 51
3 Iori Kimura B-MAX Racing 1m41.305s +0.903s 59
4 Yuga Furutani TOM’S 1m41.596s +1.194s 65
5 Seita Nonaka TOM’S 1m41.833s +1.431s 66
6 Enzo Trulli TOM’S 1m42.022s +1.620s 78
7 Igor Fraga B-MAX Racing 1m42.106s +1.704s 33
8 Yuui Tsutsumi Rn-sports 1m42.756s +2.354s 48
9 Syun Koide Toda Racing 1m44.518s +4.116s 63
10 Nobuhiro Imada B-MAX Racing 1m44.676s +4.274s 21
11 Takashi Hata B-MAX Racing 1m46.404s +6.002s 8
12 DRAGON B-MAX Racing 1m47.187s +6.785s 49
13 Daiki Sasaki B-MAX Racing 1m53.184s +12.782s 31
14 Togo Suganami B-MAX Racing no time 0