Sugo Super Formula: Yamamoto on pole in red-flagged qualifying
Reigning Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto claimed his first pole position of 2019 after a red flag brought Sugo qualifying to a premature end.
With just over a minute to go in the final leg of qualifying, both Nakajima Racing drivers crashed separately at the SP Out left-hander, necessitating a red flag intervention.
Alex Palou was the first to run wide and slam the barriers at the corner exit, with teammate Tadasuke Makino going off track moments later after setting purple times in sectors 1 and 2.
With little time left in the session, qualifying was not restarted, leaving up a mixed-up top half of the grid.
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Yamamoto was the only driver to have set a competitive lap time by the time the red flag was waved, his 1m04.532s putting him on pole by over six seconds.
Palou’s previous effort of 1m08.251s was good enough to put him provisionally on the front row, but the Spanish driver had his fastest time deleted for causing the red flag.
That promoted Mugen's Tomoki Nojiri to second on the grid ahead of Red Bull junior Lucas Auer, who enjoyed his best qualifying result of the season in third.
Real Racing’s Koudai Tsukakoshi was fourth fastest, while Kamui Kobayashi, the only Toyota-powered driver to make it to the final leg of qualifying, was fifth in the sole KCMG entry.
Friday practice pacesetter Nirei Fukuzumi was next up in sixth, with Nakajima duo Makino and Palou resigned to the fourth row after their near-identical shunts.
Impul’s Ryo Hirakawa missed out on the Q3 cut by just 0.018s and will start the race from ninth, sharing the fifth row of the grid with two-time champion and Inging driver Hiroaki Ishiura.
Several notable drivers failed to progress beyond the first part of qualifying, which was split into two parts due to the short length of the Sugo circuit.
Suzuka and Autopolis winners Nick Cassidy and Yuhi Sekiguchi could only qualify 14th and 15th respectively, while Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum could do no better than 19th, only ahead of Formula 2 convert Artem Markelov.
|1||Naoki Yamamoto||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'04.532|
|2||Tomoki Nojiri||Team Mugen||1'10.761||6.229|
|3||Lucas Auer||B-MAX with Motopark||1'11.475||6.943|
|5||Kamui Kobayashi||carrozzeria Team KCMG||1'12.808||8.276|
|6||Nirei Fukuzumi||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'13.892||9.360|
|7||Tadasuke Makino||TCS Nakajima Racing|
|8||Alex Palou||TCS Nakajima Racing|
|9||Ryo Hirakawa||Team Impul||1'04.600||0.068|
|10||Hiroaki Ishiura||JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING||1'04.800||0.268|
|12||Kazuya Oshima||UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans||1'04.936||0.404|
|13||Kazuki Nakajima||Vantelin Team TOM'S||1'05.887||1.355|
|14||Koudai Tsukakoshi||Real Racing||1'05.979||1.447|
|15||Dan Ticktum||Team Mugen||1'06.063||1.531|
|16||Harrison Newey||B-MAX with Motopark||1'06.082||1.550|
|17||Nick Cassidy||Vantelin Team TOM'S||1'06.135||1.603|
|18||Sho Tsuboi||JMS P.mu/cerumo-INGING||1'06.249||1.717|
|19||Kenta Yamashita||Kondo Racing||1'06.302||1.770|
|20||Artem Markelov||UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans||1'06.884||2.352|
|View full results|
Sugo Super Formula: Fukuzumi leads Yamamoto in practice
Sugo Super Formula: Yamamoto wins, Auer on podium