We head back to Fuji Speedway for the second time this year at MotorsportM8 for the fourth round of the 2019 Super Formula season.
Will Yamamoto continue his winning streak, thus extending his championship lead, or will Fuji see another driver head the Drivers’ Championship standings? Catch all the action this weekend, streaming live and free on the Let’s Go Racing YouTube channel, or on Motorsport.tv.
|Fuji International Speedway – Oyama, Japan|
|Circuit Length||4.563 km / 2.835 mi||Opened||1965|
|First Super GT Event||1994||Direction||Clockwise|
In the early 60’s, plans were underway for a Japanese NASCAR style series, and the Japan NASCAR Corporation – now the Fuji Speedway Corporation – was formed and tasked with creating an oval circuit at the foothills of Mount Fuji.
After the funding fell through in the mid 1960s, the Mitsubishi Estate Co. invested in the circuit and took over the reins of management. Mitsubishi Estate then converted the track to a road circuit. Remnants of the original circuit remain, with the long main straight and an unused bank lurking beyond Turn 1.
The course offers several long sweeping sections and the longest straight in the Super GT season clocking in at a whopping 1.5 kilometres, a constant reminder of the track’s origins as a NASCAR circuit.
|2019 Super Formula Championship Fuji – 12-14 July 2019|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 14:50||Free Practice Session 2
|Qualifying Session||Sat 14:45||Race (55 laps)||Sun 13:45-15:45|
All session times quoted in Japan Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 9:00)
The Sugo Form Guide
After a win at Sugo, Naoki Yamamoto (Dandelion Racing Honda) is the obvious favorite going into this round, however he has never won at Fuji before. After the Super GT race at Buriram a fortnight ago, which resulted in a DNF for his Raybrig machine, you can imagine he would be raring for a win and would certainly be looking to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
As it stands, Yamamoto sits on 26 points, a 10-point lead over Nick Cassidy (TOM’S Toyota). Cassidy, another Super Formula hopeful could draw level with the championship leader at the end of this weekend, but only if Yamamoto doesn’t manage to score any points in the race.
Either way, Cassidy will be closer to overtaking Yamamoto in points after this race, provided he places highly of course. Cassidy also won last year’s Fuji race, so he will be looking to defend his crown on Sunday.
The third placed Kenta Yamashita (Kondō Racing Toyota) will also be looking for a good result this round, being one of only three drivers to have scored every round. Yamashita seems to be following the tried and true strategy of building up points from small successes throughout the season to amass a higher place by the end of the season.
In other Super Formula news, Red Bull Junior driver Patricio O’Ward will be taking over Daniel Ticktum’s seat in the Team Mugen Honda machine for the rest of the 2019 season. Ticktum – targeted as a potential Formula 1 graduate – lost the seat after a disappointing run in his Super Formula career where he has achieved just one points’ finish to-date in five starts.
Red Bull Motorsports adviser Helmut Marko said: “At this level, demands are intense. Unfortunately, Dan has not found the success in Super Formula that we hoped for.”
Will yet another rookie driver provide the shake-up needed to turn the second half of the Super Formula season into even more of a thriller? Could we be seeing the start of another world class driver from the Super Formula series? We’ll find out this Sunday at 3pm AEST when the race kicks off!
Images via Tomohiro Yoshita