Hirakawa tops first Fuji session, Kobayashi crashes

Jamie Klein

Despite clear weather, the cool track temperatures led to a disrupted start to the two-hour Tuesday morning session, with two red flags in the first 20 minutes.

The first of these was triggered by Super Formula newcomer Tatiana Calderon, who spun on her out lap at the Turn 10 complex as her Drago Corse machine suffered a throttle problem.

Moments after action resumed, Kobayashi lost control of his KCMG-run car exiting Turn 2, sustaining damage that would leave him unable to take part in the remainder of the session.

Once the session got going in earnest, it was Nirei Fukuzumi that set the early pace on a 1m22.675s, which stood as the benchmark until his Dandelion Racing teammate Naoki Yamamoto posted a 1m22.335s just shy of the one-hour mark.

Impul driver Hirakawa briefly bested that with a 1m22.245s, but Yamamoto soon improved to a 1m21.480s, which went unchallenged until the final minutes of the session when a number of drivers attempted fast laps on new tyres.

Hirakawa snatched the top time with a 1m21.342s, leaving him only 0.054s ahead of Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Racing), who vaulted up to second.

Yamamoto did not improve and ended up third, 0.138s off the pace, ahead of Mugen driver Tomoki Nojiri and Kondo Racing's Kenta Yamashita.

Fukuzumi slipped to sixth amid the late improvements, followed by Toyota runners Sacha Fenestraz (Kondo) and Kazuki Nakajima (TOM'S).

Reigning champion Nick Cassidy was 14th-fastest in the sister TOM'S car, 1.484s off the pace, while Red Bull junior Juri Vips ended up 17th for Mugen, a place behind last-minute B-Max/Motopark signing and series rookie Sergio Sette Camara.

Tatiana Calderon(THREEBOND DRAGO CORSE)

Tatiana Calderon(THREEBOND DRAGO CORSE) Tomohiro Yoshita

Tomohiro Yoshita

After her early troubles, Calderon was able to get 29 laps under her belt, the quickest of which left her 19th-fastest and 3.8s off the pace.

Session results:

Pos. No. Driver Team/Engine Time Gap
1 20 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Impul/Toyota 1m21.342s  
2 64 Japan Tadasuke Makino Nakajima/Honda 1m21.396s 0.054s
3 5 Japan Naoki Yamamoto Dandelion/Honda 1m21.480s 0.138s
4 16 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Mugen/Honda 1m21.532s 0.190s
5 3 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo/Toyota 1m21.605s 0.263s
6 6 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi Dandelion/Honda 1m21.640s 0.298s
7 4 France Sacha Fenestraz Kondo/Toyota 1m21.696s 0.354s
8 36 Japan Kazuki Nakajima TOM'S/Toyota 1m22.024s 0.682s
9 19 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Impul/Toyota 1m22.298s 0.956s
10 38 Japan Hiroaki Ishiura Inging/Toyota 1m22.405s 1.063s
11 65 Japan Toshiki Oyu Nakajima/Honda 1m22.488s 1.146s
12 39 Japan Sho Tsuboi Inging/Toyota 1m22.504s 1.162s
13 18 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG/Toyota 1m22.798s 1.456s
14 1 New Zealand Nick Cassidy TOM'S/Toyota 1m22.826s 1.484s
15 51 France Charles Milesi B-Max/Honda 1m23.026s 1.684s
16 50 Brazil Sergio Sette Camara B-Max/Honda 1m23.268s 1.926s
17 15 Estonia Juri Vips Mugen/Honda 1m23.282s 1.940s
18 14 Japan Kazuya Oshima Inging/Toyota 1m23.490s 2.148s
19 12 Colombia Tatiana Calderon Drago Corse/Honda 1m25.190s 3.848s
20 7 Japan Kamui Kobayashi KCMG/Toyota no time