Super Formula returns this weekend for its fifth round at Twin Ring Motegi, located in the Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.
So far in Super Formula, four different drivers have won each of the four races, so the fifth round is totally up for grabs. Tune into the LetsGoRacing YouTube channel or Motorsport.tv this Sunday to catch all the action, live and free.
|Twin Ring Motegiy – Tochigi, Japan|
|Circuit Length||4.800 km / 2.983 mi||Opened||1997|
|First Super GT Event||2013||Direction||Clockwise|
Originally constructed as Honda facility built to showcase its products, Motegi is home to two circuits (hence the name): an oval circuit and a thrilling road circuit.
The road course is host to MotoGP’s headline international event each year, and also hosts Super Formula, Super GT, Super Taikyu and used to host the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake – famous fro triggering the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant – rendered the oval circuit unuseable, with repairs unlikely to ever be completed.
The road course offers a starting section with a series of 90-degree turns, followed by a section of long sweeping corners and a dramatic straightaway as drivers race back towards the starting line.
|2019 Super Formula Championship Twin Ring Motegi – 16-18 August 2019|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 13:15||Free Practice Session 2
|Qualifying Session||Sat 14:30||Race (62 laps)||Sun 14:15|
All session times quoted in Japan Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 9:00)
Rewind to 2018
Last year at Motegi, the then defending champion Hiroaki Ishiura claimed his first victory of the season while Nick Cassidy took the championship lead.
Ishiura and Honda driver Nobuharu Matsushita fought for first place for the first half of the race, pulling away from the rest of the pack. After Matsushita pitted on Lap 27, he found himself stuck behind Oshima and Sekiguchi, and was losing as much as 3 seconds per lap to Ishiura.
Ishiura stayed out on track until lap 40 before pitting, allowing him to complete his pitstop and remain in the lead. The two other podium sitters, Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy both used unconventional strategies to nab themselves big points in 2018’s fifth round.
Hirakawa utilised a two-stop strategy to place himself in second, whilst Cassidy got his pit stop out of the way on Lap 10 and used the fresh soft tyre compound to work his way up the order.
The Twin Ring Motegi Form Guide
Heading into the race this weekend, the victor is anyone’s guess. Having four winners from four races, this season of Super Formula is proving to be one of driver consistency, rather than ability to win races outright.
Both championship leading Naoki Yamamoto and second place Nick Cassidy have only won a race each, but with several podium and points earning finishes under their belts, the pair has created a gap between themselves and the rest of the competition.
Further down in the standings, several drivers are separated by a range of just three points, meaning that this weekend’s race will see a huge shake-up in the midfield of the rankings.
Motegi saw no pre-season testing for the new SF19 chassis, however with three practice sessions across the weekend, teams will have plenty of time to gather the required data to put on a show Sunday afternoon.
Can Cassidy take the lead this weekend, or will reigning champion Yamamoto hold his ground?
Cassidy would certainly be looking for his second win of the season on Sunday, as he still remains a very strong contender for this year’s championship, whilst his rival Yamamoto would also be looking to improve his form after failing to score any points the last time out at Fuji.