Super Formula Rd. 3 at Sportsland SUGO Qualifying
Nojiri Wins Pole with New SUGO Course Record
The Super Formula Rd. 3 Qualifying was held under 24℃ fine weather conditions (track temp. 41℃) at Sportsland SUGO in Miyagi, Prefecture. This year’s regulations calls for all cars to use medium spec tires in Q1.
It was Kenta Yamashita who first laid down a solid lap time with more than 12 min. left on the clock in the 20 minute Q1. Rookie Nobuharu Matsushita then bested Kenta’s time. With 7 min. 30 sec. on the clock, Dan Ticktum, who is making his debut in Super Formula this weekend, was running in 13th place. He needed to make it into the top 14 to move on to Q2. Just as the drivers began to heat up their tires in order to record a fast lap, Tom Dillman went off course, bringing out the red flag. After a several minute delay, Q1 restarted, but Matsushita didn’t come out of the pit, because it was deemed his time was good enough to make it on to Q2.
In the 7-min. Q2, Matsushita set a new course record lap time of 1’04.842. Last year’s champion Hiroaki Ishiura followed him in the 2nd spot, and Ishiura’s teammate Yuji Kunimoto was in 3rd. Ticktum needed to be in the top 8 to move on to Q3, but he just missed it with a 9th place finish. That is where he’ll start tomorrow’s 250 km race.
As the 7-min. Q3 began, Matsushita came out onto the track before any of the other cars and started to slowly warm up his tires. It appeared that he was running at a good pace, but shortly after, his teammate Tomoki Nojiri broke the Sportsland SUGO course record with a time of 1’04.694. Kamui Kobayashi finished the session in 2nd, and Ryo Hirakawa, who won pole in Rd. 2, was third. Those are the grids they will begin tomorrow’s race in.