Suzuka Super Formula: Hirakawa leads Nojiri in practice

Jamie Klein
·3 min read

Fresh off his heartbreaking defeat in last weekend's SUPER GT title decider at Fuji Speedway, Impul Toyota man Hirakawa posted his quickest time of 1m35.468s with five minutes left of Friday's second practice session.

That was more than two tenths underneath the existing lap record set by Kazuki Nakajima back in 2017, and faster than Kamui Kobayashi's session-topping effort from first practice.

KCMG driver Kobayashi, who missed the previous race at Autopolis owing to his Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship commitments, beat Tomoki Nojiri (Mugen) to the top spot in the morning session by just 0.033s with his lap of 1m35.962s.

Kamui Kobayashi(carrozzeria Team KCMG)

Kamui Kobayashi(carrozzeria Team KCMG)<span class="copyright">Masahide Kamio</span>
Kamui Kobayashi(carrozzeria Team KCMG)Masahide Kamio

Masahide Kamio

Kobayashi's time stood as the benchmark until a late flurry of new-tyre runs in the final 10 minutes of the day, as Nojiri improved to a 1m35.941s to move up to second overall.

Third-fastest in the morning and fourth overall was Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Honda), who took SUPER GT title honours alongside Naoki Yamamoto last weekend.

Watch the Super Formula double-header live on Motorsport.tv for free HERE.

Yamamoto (Dandelion Racing) was next up, third-fastest in the afternoon and fifth for the day, followed by TOM'S driver Nakajima, also back after a race out.

Hirakawa's Impul teammate Yuhi Sekiguchi was seventh-fastest, followed by reigning champion Nick Cassidy (TOM'S) - back in Japan after his Formula E testing duties - Yuji Kunimoto in the second KCMG car and Okayama race winner Sho Tsuboi (Inging).

Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) was fourth-fastest in the morning, but such were the improvements that he slumped to 11th overall in the afternoon.

B-Max Racing's Nobuharu Matsushita, replacing Sergio Sette Camara for the rest of the season, had a low-key day of running on his way to 18th behind teammate Charles Milesi, who caused the only red flag of the day early in first practice with an off at Turn 1.

Tatiana Calderon (Drago Corse) propped up the field on her first visit to Suzuka in 20th.

FP1 results:

1

7

Japan

Kamui Kobayashi

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'35.962

2

16

Japan

Tomoki Nojiri

Team Mugen

1'35.995

0.033

3

64

Japan

Tadasuke Makino

TCS Nakajima Racing

1'36.007

0.045

4

3

Japan

Kenta Yamashita

Kondo Racing

1'36.441

0.479

5

20

Japan

Ryo Hirakawa

ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

1'36.535

0.573

6

5

Japan

Naoki Yamamoto

DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing

1'36.699

0.737

7

18

Japan

Yuji Kunimoto

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'36.768

0.806

8

15

Japan

Ukyo Sasahara

Team Mugen

1'37.086

1.124

9

14

Japan

Kazuya Oshima

ROOKIE Racing

1'37.307

1.345

10

1

New Zealand

Nick Cassidy

Vantelin Team TOM'S

1'37.456

1.494

View full results

FP2 results:

1

20

Japan

Ryo Hirakawa

ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

1'35.648

2

16

Japan

Tomoki Nojiri

Team Mugen

1'35.941

0.293

3

5

Japan

Naoki Yamamoto

DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing

1'36.027

0.379

4

36

Japan

Kazuki Nakajima

Vantelin Team TOM'S

1'36.034

0.386

5

19

Japan

Yuhi Sekiguchi

ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

1'36.036

0.388

6

7

Japan

Kamui Kobayashi

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'36.042

0.394

7

1

New Zealand

Nick Cassidy

Vantelin Team TOM'S

1'36.057

0.409

8

18

Japan

Yuji Kunimoto

carrozzeria Team KCMG

1'36.179

0.531

9

64

Japan

Tadasuke Makino

TCS Nakajima Racing

1'36.287

0.639

10

39

Japan

Sho Tsuboi

JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING

1'36.393

0.745

View full results