Nakayama, Sofyan earn maiden poles in Japan.
Okayama, Japan - Making his Formula BMW Pacific debut at his home race at the 3.7km Okayama International Circuit, Yuichi Nakayama (JPN/18/Asia Racing Team) earned his maiden pole position for today's Round 13 in support of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Less than a tenth of a second behind Nakayama's 1:35.158 lap was Oscar Tunjo (COL/Meritus), fresh from of his first series victory in Singapore last month. Dustin Sofyan (INA/16/Eurointernational) was third-quickest in the session.
With the drivers' second-fastest times determining the grid for tomorrow's Round 14, Sofyan will start from pole, the first time ever the Indonesian will start from the front of the grid. Tunjo will again start from the first row, while Nakayama will start from third.
As Drivers Classification and Rookie Cup leader Richard Bradley starts fourth in both Rounds 13 and 14, Tunjo, the only driver still in the title races, will look to use his qualifying success to his advantage.
The top six cars are separated by just three-tenths of a second and today's Round 13 is expected to be one of the most competitive of the season so far.
The 30-minute qualifying session began with Tunjo, Sofyan, Bradley and Malaysia's Calvin Wong (18/PETRONAS Mofaz Racing) jostling for position at the top of the time sheets. With 10 minutes to go, Tunjo took provisional pole, until Sofyan bettered the time three minutes later. With six minutes on the clock, Nakayama, recently crowned Formula Challenge Japan champion, put in his fastest lap of the session which could not be bettered.
While Sofyan did well to earn pole position for Round 14, the young Indonesian driver spun on his final qualifying lap, making contact with a barrier.
Formula BMW Pacific Juniors Jesse Dixon (AUS/18/Atlantic Racing Team) and Jordan Oon (AUS/20/E-Rain Racing) qualified 13th and 15th, respectively, for Round 13. Oon will start 12th in Round 14, with Dixon starting from 15th on the grid.
Amirrul Khirudin (MAL/17/PETRONAS Mofaz Racing) did not start the session after an incident during free practice.
Formula BMW Pacific Driver Quotes:
Yuichi Nakayama, 1st Round 13 and 3rd Round 14 Qualifying: "I was here [at Okayama] two years ago to do some testing, but this is both the first time I've raced here and been a part of Formula BMW Pacific. I'm really happy to be on pole. I didn't know my position until I came back to the pits and the team told me. After winning Formula Challenge Japan earlier this year, I wanted to join Formula BMW Pacific to try first in Okayama and then to go to Macau."
Oscar Tunjo, 2nd Rounds 13&14 Qualifying and Top Rookie: "I'm happy to be on the front row, but I still think we can improve the car before the race. At the moment, the championship is still open, but my focus is going to be on the race, on earning points and then seeing what happens. Of course I want to win the championship, but I need to concentrate on the race and I will try to take advantage of starting ahead of Richard [Bradley, the current championship leader]."
Dustin Sofyan, 3rd Round 13 and 1st Round 14 Qualifying: "I feel good and I'm excited for my first pole position. I like the track because it's interesting and I was here last year, so I have an advantage. I'm not super upset about spinning because the team has a spare engine they can put in. Other than the spin at the end, it's been a good weekend so far and I hope to have a good race."
Kotara Sakurai, Top Formula BMW Pacific Junior: "I think I'm doing okay, but the track was a lot different during qualifying than it was during free practice so I will again need to make some changes to make sure I am ready for the race. This is my home race so I really would like to win here and also there is another Japanese driver on pole, who is the champion in Japan right now, so to pass him would be a good result for me."
-source: fmw pac