The SUPER FORMULA season opener finally took place at Twinring Motegi after a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The big news was that Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT’s driver – Ukyo Sasahara’s participation in the series with TEAM MUGEN, as a replacement for Juri Vips who were not able to enter Japan due to travel restrictions.
Nirei Fukuzumi also competes in the series with DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING again this year, aiming for the championship title.
In qualifying sessions, Ukyo Sasahara made it to Q2 and qualified in 13th position despite his first experience with the SF19 car after quite limited test sessions. Nirei Fukuzumi also advanced to Q2 and qualified in 9th, quite close to Q3.
The race format was unusual in a shorter race distance without mandatory tire changes.
Despite the difficult race format and conditions, Nirei Fukuzumi showed strong performance and Ukyo Sasahara pushed hard with an aggressive strategy.
The race was impressive to see the two drivers compete in the top category in Japan after a long support from EXGEL Motorsport.
We thank all of you for your warm supports for the two drivers.
Ukyo Sasahara / TEAM MUGEN
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for giving me the great opportunity to participate in the most competitive category in Japan.
It was a hectic week after the announcement, seat fitting first, followed by meetings and lots of things I had to manage.
Although I drove the SF19 for the first time in Friday sessions, I was able to learn and control the car step by step.
I was pleased to manage the car and advanced to Q2 for the team, despite we had been struggling with balance of the car.
Knowing that race start is quite important at Motegi where overtaking is difficult, I concentrate on start.
My start was successful until the first corner, however I dropped the position because I couldn’t have my space, so we decided to make a pit stop to change tires.
My pace was good with new tires and I was able to push hard.
I felt positive about the fruitful experience even though I couldn’t score championship points.
At the moment it’s not clear if I will have a chance to drive again in the next round at Okayama. Of course, I will be giving it all I have got for the team and myself using a lot of data we gathered at Motegi.
Thank you very much to my sponsors and fans who supported me under the scorching weather and through live video.
Nirei Fukuzumi / DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING
SUPER FORMULA 2020 season started under extremely hot weather.
I had trained with simulator in preparation fore the late season opener which had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We had free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday for 4 hours in total, and I was able to adjust myself before qualifying, completing a lot of test menus.
Qualifying sessions started early in the morning on Sunday. After setting fastest time in Q1, our strategy didn’t work in Q2 and failed to advance to Q3 with P9 in qualifying.
I focused on start of the race because there wasn’t mandatory pit stop due to the race format changes.
My start was not bad and succeeded to move up to P7, then I managed to advance to P5 in the middle of the race. After that, all I could do was to keep the position until the end. The result would have been different if I was in better position in qualifying because my pace was good.
The car felt good throughout the weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next race.
Thank you all for your support.