Hirakawa concludes Suzuka test on top, Alesi fifth

Ryo Hirakawa concluded a rain-hit second day of Super Formula pre-season testing at Suzuka with the fastest time, as TOM'S substitute Giuliano Alesi broke into the top five.

Hirakawa concludes Suzuka test on top, Alesi fifth
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Impul Toyota driver Hirakawa set his best time of 1m36.335s towards the end of the two hour, 30 minute morning session, which was extended by 30 minutes due to the threat of rain.

The rain arrived shortly after Hirakawa set his best lap and ensured that the shortened 90-minute afternoon session would take place entirely in wet conditions.

Thursday pacesetter Ukyo Sasahara, standing for the unwell Tadasuke Makino at Dandelion Racing, led after the one hour mark of the morning session with a 1m36.845s.

Sasahara's replacement in Team Mugen's Red Bull-backed #15 car for this season, Hiroki Otsu, the moved to the top of the times with a 1m36.660s, the fastest time of the test so far, and that effort stood until Hirakawa went fastest to the tune of 0.305s.

Otsu and Sasahara remained second and third respectively as the rain prevented any further improvements, while Sho Tsuboi was fourth for Inging.

Drafted in at late notice to stand in for the absent Kazuki Nakajima, Alesi was an impressive fifth-fastest for TOM'S in his second day of Super Formula running, 0.970s off the pace.

Giuliano Alesi(Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S)

Giuliano Alesi(Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S)

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

That put the Frenchman ahead of 2020 race winners Tomoki Nojiri (Mugen) and Toshiki Oyu (Nakajima Racing), as well as his own teammate Ritomo Miyata.

Reigning champion Naoki Yamamoto (Nakajima) was 10th-fastest and 1.510s adrift of Hirakawa, slotting in behind Inging rookie Sena Sakaguchi.

The afternoon session was topped by Sakaguchi on a 1m53.202s, 0.150s ahead of second-placed Nojiri, while Tsuboi was the only other driver within a second of the pace in third.

KCMG rookie Kazuko Kotaka, standing in for Kamui Kobayashi, caused the day's first red flag when he crashed at the final corner in the morning session.

Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul) was responsible for the second red flag after crashing at the S Curve shortly after the start of the afternoon running in wet conditions, while Kotaka caused another stoppage around 30 minutes into the session with an off at Degner.

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Nirei Fukuzumi in the second Dandelion car sat out the day's running entirely due to illness, while Otsu and Sasahara did not go out in the afternoon.

Testing continues at Fuji Speedway on March 23-24 ahead of the opening round of the season at the same track on April 3-4.

Suzuka testing times:

Pos. Driver Team/Engine Morning Afternoon
1 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Impul/Toyota 1m36.335s 2m09.575s
2 Japan Hiroki Otsu Mugen/Honda 1m36.660s no time
3 Japan Ukyo Sasahara Dandelion/Honda 1m36.845s no time
4 Japan Sho Tsuboi Inging/Toyota 1m36.994s 1m54.151s
5 France Giuliano Alesi TOM'S/Toyota 1m37.325s 1m59.133s
6 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Mugen/Honda 1m37.541s 1m53.352s
7 Japan Toshiki Oyu Nakajima/Honda 1m37.565s 1m54.756s
8 Japan Ritomo Miyata TOM'S/Toyota 1m37.615s 1m56.623s
9 Japan Sena Sakaguchi Inging/Toyota 1m37.801s 1m53.202s
10 Japan Naoki Yamamoto Nakajima/Honda 1m37.865s 1m58.736s
11 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Impul/Toyota 1m38.163s 3m35.724s
12 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo/Toyota 1m38.212s 1m56.416s
13 Japan Yuichi Nakayama Kondo/Toyota 1m38.414s 1m58.206s
14 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG/Toyota 1m38.420s 2m04.388s
15 Colombia Tatiana Calderon Drago Corse/Honda 1m38.427s 2m22.281s
16 Japan Kazuya Oshima Rookie/Toyota 1m38.724s 1m57.467s
17 Japan Kazuto Kotaka KCMG/Toyota 1m38.882s 1m57.775s

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