The second round of the 2019 Super Formula season has finally come around after the month long wait since Nick Cassidy’s remarkable victory at Suzuka. The race kicks off this weekend with qualifying on May 18 and the race on Sunday May 19.


The Circuit

Autopolis

Autopolis – Ōita Prefecture, Japan
Circuit Length 4.673 km / 2.904 mi Opened 1990
Lap Record 1:26.469 – Naoki Yamamoto (Team Mugen), 2005 Direction Clockwise

Autopolis circuit was opened in 1990 and was touted as the future of Japanese motorsport but has unfortunately become somewhat of a white elephant. It was created with hopes of hosting F1 races however this dream was never realised, the circuit was purchased by Kawasaki in 2005 and currently hosts rounds of the national superbike series as well as Super GT and of course Super Formula.

The undulating circuit features several long straights as well as long sweeping corners and a series of technical corners in the latter half of the track.


The Event

2019 Super Formula Championship Autopolis – 17-19 May 2019
Free Practice Session 1 Fri 13:45 Free Practice Session 2
Sat 08:50
Qualifying Session Sat 15:00 Race (54 laps) Sun 14:00-15:30

All session times quoted in Japan Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 9:00)


Rewind to 2018

Last year’s event was the first that Autopolis was run as the second round of Super Formula, as previously it has been relegated until Round 5. However, this proved to be a bad time of year for the race as it was cancelled after qualifying due to heavily rain and unsafe conditions.


The Autopolis Form Guide

On a quick side note, I’ve been writing these Super Formula articles without knowing much about the series, however recently I picked up Gran Turismo Sport again, and had the chance to drive the Dallara SF19 in the game. After taking for a few laps around a virtual Suzuka, imagining I was a certain New Zealand driver who had recent success there, I must say I have a sudden respect for the car and the series, in the virtual world at least. The cars are absolutely glued to the track, and I often found myself fighting with the car to get it around several of Suzuka’s tight corners. So, I offer my respects to all the drivers over in Japan racing in the Super Formula season, and now onto the race!

The second round of the 2019 Super Formula series will be a different one to pick. This race will be the first time the SF19 car will have run at Autopolis and combined with the lack of an Autopolis race last season, returning drivers might find themselves a bit rusty on the circuit.

Additionally, this season there are a great deal of rookie drivers, some of whom have raced in the Japanese F3 series, but several have never driven here before. Will Nick Cassidy continue his success from last month? It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Images via Super Formula and Super GT World

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Keegan Bennett

Journalist - Japanese Motorsport at MotorsportM8
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