Autopolis Super Formula: Fukuzumi fastest in practice

Jamie Klein
·4-min read

Fresh from his first win in SUPER GT's top class at Motegi last weekend, Fukuzumi posted a 1m24.450s in the final minutes of the hour-long afternoon session at Autopolis to top the times by 0.162s ahead of championship leader Ryo Hirakawa.

Okayama race winner Sho Tsuboi had topped the morning's running with a 1m24.714s, which blew away the previous 1m25.799s benchmark set by Kamui Kobayashi during qualifying in 2018 - when the previous-generation SF14 car was still in use.

Watch the Super Formula race live from Autopolis at Motorsport.tv here.

Tsuboi's time went unchallenged for the bulk of the afternoon session, only falling after a late red flag period caused by two-time champion Naoki Yamamoto parking up his Dandelion machine at Turn 5 with a mechanical problem.

With two minutes left on the clock, Impul man Hirakawa was first to go faster than Tsuboi with a 1m24.612s, but that was soon bettered by Fukuzumi's final flyer.

Inging driver Tsuboi managed to improve on his morning time with a 1m24.645s, but fell 0.195s shy of Fukuzumi.

Sho Tsuboi(JMS P.MU/CERUMO・INGING)

Sho Tsuboi(JMS P.MU/CERUMO・INGING)<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
Sho Tsuboi(JMS P.MU/CERUMO・INGING)Masahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio

Three more Honda-powered drivers completed the top six, with Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Racing) taking fourth ahead of Tomoki Nojiri (Team Mugen) and Toshiki Oyu (Nakajima).

Ritomo Miyata, deputising for the absent Kazuki Nakajima at TOM'S, was second-fastest behind Tsuboi in the morning but didn't improve in the afternoon, ending up seventh overall, ahead of Kondo Racing's Sacha Fenestraz.

In his first Super Formula race weekend since the 2018 Suzuka finale, Nobuharu Matsushita was ninth-fastest for B-Max Racing ahead of Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG).

Yamamoto ended up 13th on the combined timesheets on the strength of his morning effort, one place ahead of reigning champion Nick Cassidy (TOM'S).

Last year's Autopolis winner Yuhi Sekiguchi's struggles continued in 17th place, one place behind series debutant Charles Milesi (B-Max), while returnee Tatiana Calderon (Drago Corse) propped up the timesheets in 20th place overall.

Qualifying groups determined

As per the first three races of the season, the drivers will be split between two groups in Q1 on Sunday morning, collectively fighting over 14 spots in Q2. The seven fastest drivers out of the 10 in each group will progress to Q2.

Group A: Nick Cassidy, Sacha Fenestraz, Nirei Fukuzumi, Yuichi Nakayama, Tatiana Calderon, Tomoki Nojiri, Yuki Sekiguchi, Hiroaki Ishiura, Nobuharu Matsushita, Tadasuke Makino.

Group B: Kenta Yamashita, Naoki Yamamoto, Kazuya Oshima, Ukyo Sasahara, Yuji Kunimoto, Ryo Hirakawa, Ritomo Miyata, Sho Tsuboi, Charles Milesi, Toshiki Oyu.

Practice results (afternoon session only):

1

6

Japan
Japan

Nirei Fukuzumi

DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing

1'24.450

2

20

Japan
Japan

Ryo Hirakawa

ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

1'24.612

0.162

3

39

Japan
Japan

Sho Tsuboi

JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING

1'24.645

0.195

4

64

Japan
Japan

Tadasuke Makino

TCS Nakajima Racing

1'24.874

0.424

5

16

Japan
Japan

Tomoki Nojiri

Team Mugen

1'24.879

0.429

6

65

Japan
Japan

Toshiki Oyu

TCS Nakajima Racing

1'24.890

0.440

7

4

France
France

Sacha Fenestraz

Kondo Racing

1'25.001

0.551

8

36

Japan
Japan

Ritomo Miyata

Vantelin Team TOM'S

1'25.035

0.585

9

50

Japan
Japan

Nobuharu Matsushita

Buzz Racing with B-Max

1'25.111

0.661

10

3

Japan
Japan

Kenta Yamashita

Kondo Racing

1'25.151

0.701

11

18

Japan
Japan

Yuji Kunimoto

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'25.275

0.825

12

15

Japan
Japan

Ukyo Sasahara

Team Mugen

1'25.322

0.872

13

1

New Zealand
New Zealand

Nick Cassidy

Vantelin Team TOM'S

1'25.678

1.228

14

38

Japan
Japan

Hiroaki Ishiura

JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING

1'25.719

1.269

15

51

France
France

Charles Milesi

Buzz Racing with B-Max

1'25.764

1.314

16

19

Japan
Japan

Yuhi Sekiguchi

ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

1'25.846

1.396

17

7

Japan
Japan

Yuichi Nakayama

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'26.155

1.705

18

14

Japan
Japan

Kazuya Oshima

ROOKIE Racing

1'26.691

2.241

19

12

Colombia
Colombia

Tatiana Calderon

ThreeBond Drago CORSE

1'27.242

2.792

20

5

Japan
Japan

Naoki Yamamoto

DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing

1'28.132

3.682

View full results