Motegi Super Formula: Sekiguchi tops pre-event test

Impul Toyota driver Yuhi Sekiguchi set the pace in Super Formula's pre-event test session at Motegi, ahead of this weekend's first round of 2020.

Motegi Super Formula: Sekiguchi tops pre-event test
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SUPER GT points leader Sekiguchi set the pace at the very end of the two-hour session, which marked Super Formula's first running since March's pre-season test at Fuji Speedway.

He set a time of 1m33.717s after the chequered flag fell amid a late flurry of times to go top by just 0.012s ahead of Inging Toyota driver Hiroaki Ishiura.

Naoki Yamamoto (Dandelion Racing) was best of the Honda drivers in third, 0.075s off the pace, followed by Tomoki Nojiri (Mugen) and Nirei Fukuzumi (Dandelion).

Fukuzumi had been first to dip into the 1m33s bracket with two minutes go, deposing KCMG Toyota man Kamui Kobayashi with a 1m33.903s, but as the chequered flag fell Nojiri bettered that with a 1m33.871s before Sekiguchi, Ishiura and Yamamoto all improved.

Kazuki Nakajima ended up sixth-fastest for TOM'S, best of the three Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship stars who were granted a last-minute allowance to compete at Motegi despite not completing a 14-day quarantine after racing at Spa.

Fuji test pacesetter Ryo Hirakawa was seventh, just under half a second behind Impul teammate Sekiguchi, while Kobayashi was demoted to eighth at the finish.

Reigning champion Nick Cassidy, who is going into his final Super Formula season for TOM'S as he moves to Formula E in 2021, was ninth-fastest, 0.492s off the pace, while his former teammate Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) completed the top 10.

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The two-hour session was interrupted by one early red flag when Nakajima Racing rookie Toshiki Oyu went off the hairpin.

Oyu ended up 13th-fastest, two places behind teammate Tadasuke Makino, who enjoyed a spell at the head of timesheets before dropping down the order in the final 20 minutes.

Ukyo Sasahara, making his Super Formula debut this weekend replacing Mugen's absent Red Bull junior Juri Vips, was 16th-fastest and 1.529s slower than Sekiguchi.

Of the other rookies, Sacha Fenestraz was 17th for Kondo Racing, Tatiana Calderon was 18th for Drago Corse and last-minute B-Max Racing/Motopark signing Teppei Natori propped up the timesheets in 19th place, just over two seconds off the pace.

Session results:

Pos. No. Driver Team/Engine Time Gap
1 19 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul/Toyota 1’33.717  
2 38 Japan Hiroaki Ishiura Inging/Toyota 1’33.729 0.012
3 5 Japan Naoki Yamamoto Dandelion Racing/Honda 1’33.792 0.075
4 16 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen/Honda 1’33.871 0.154
5 6 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi Dandelion Racing/Honda 1’33.903 0.186
6 36 Japan Kazuki Nakajima TOM'S/Toyota 1’34.018 0.301
7 20 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul/Toyota 1’34.167 0.450
8 7 Japan Kamui Kobayashi KCMG/Toyota 1’34.169 0.452
9 1 New Zealand Nick Cassidy TOM'S/Toyota 1'34.209 0.492
10 3 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing/Toyota 1’34.264 0.547
11 64 Japan Tadasuke Makino Nakajima Racing/Honda 1’34.442 0.725
12 39 Japan Sho Tsuboi Inging/Toyota 1’34.470 0.753
13 65 Japan Toshiki Oyu Nakajima Racing/Honda 1’34.472 0.755
14 18 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG/Toyota 1’34.713 0.996
15 14 Japan Kazuya Oshima Inging/Toyota 1’35.047 1.330
16 15 Japan Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen/Honda 1’35.246 1.529
17 4 France Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing/Toyota 1’35.274 1.557
18 12 Colombia Tatiana Calderon Drago Corse/Honda 1’35.406 1.689
19 50 Japan Teppei Natori B-Max Racing/Honda 1’35.908 2.191
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