Home News Yamamoto sets Suzuka record with Super Formula pole, Hirakawa last

Yamamoto sets Suzuka record with Super Formula pole, Hirakawa last

by Tim Lumb

Photo: Honda Racing

Naoki Yamamoto smashed the Super Formula track record at Suzuka on his way to claim pole position, as championship leaders Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy faltered.

The 1m34.533s lap time set by the two-time SF champion Yamamoto was over a second faster than Alex Palou’s pole lap at Suzuka in 2019.

Yamamoto was the first driver to go under 1m35s with his first flying lap in Q3. Team Mugen’s Tomoki Nojiri went above him at the chequered flag, but Yamamoto soon crossed the line to improve further and take pole for the first race of a double-header.

The result gives both drivers a great opportunity in the championship, as current points leader Hirakawa failed to leave the pits in his qualifying group after Team Impul found an issue with his car. Defending champion Cassidy, who is second in the standings for TOM’S, failed to get out of Q2 in 11th place.

Yamamoto’s Dandelion Racing team-mate Nirei Fukuzumi will start the race just behind him on the second row of the grid, alongside Cassidy’s teeam-mate Kazuki Nakajima.

Tadasuke Makino was the last driver to set a lap time under 1m35s and the Nakajima Racing driver will start in fifth. Kamui Kobayashi – who won the World Endurance Championship last month – qualified in sixth on his series return with KCMG.

Makino’s team-mate Toshiki Oyu was seventh fastest, while Ukyo Sasahara made it two Mugen cars in Q3 in eighth.

The top 10 for the start of today’s race was rounded out by Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG) and Yuhi Sekiguchi (Team Impul).

Kondo Racing duo Kenta Yamashita and Sacha Fenestraz both failed to get out of their groups and into Q2, while Okayama winner Sho Tsuboi only managed to qualify 13th.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Naoki Yamamoto Dandelion Racing 1m35.153s 1m35.055s 1m34.533s
2 Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1m36.177s 1m35.155s 1m34.648s
3 Nirei Fukuzumi Dandelion Racing 1m35.601s 1m35.393s 1m34.809s
4 Kazuki Nakajima TOM’S 1m36.088s 1m35.228s 1m34.917s
5 Tadasuke Makino Nakajima Racing 1m35.687s 1m35.185s 1m34.935s
6 Kamui Kobayashi KCMG 1m35.547s 1m35.338s 1m35.082s
7 Toshiki Oyu Nakajima Racing 1m35.734s 1m35.367s 1m35.099s
8 Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen 1m35.480s 1m35.422s 1m35.764s
9 Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 1m35.636s 1m35.429s
10 Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 1m35.917s 1m35.545s
11 Nick Cassidy TOM’S 1m35.353s 1m35.598s
12 Nobuharu Matsushita B-MAX w/ Motopark 1m35.792s 1m35.678s
13 Sho Tsuboi INGING 1m36.010s 1m35.782s
14 Hiroaki Ishiura INGING 1m35.800s 1m35.841s
15 Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing 1m36.029s
16 Charles Milesi B-MAX w/ Motopark 1m36.053s
17 Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 1m36.333s
18 Kazuya Oshima ROOKIE Racing 1m36.621s
19 Tatiana Calderon ThreeBond w/ Drago Corse 1m37.649s
20 Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul no time