Naoki Yamamoto Third In Chaotic Sportsland SUGO Race

Sportsland Sugo, Japan, Oct 18, 2020

Round 3 of the 2020 Japanese Championship SUPER FORMULA series was held at Sportsland SUGO, in Miyagi, Japan. Jüri Vips (TEAM MUGEN) and Tatiana Calderón (ThreeBond Drago Corse) could not race due to quarantine schedules, and were replaced by Ukyo Sasahara and Koudai Tsukakoshi respectively. On the other hand, Sérgio Sette Câmara (Buzz Racing with B-MAX) was able to arrive in Japan in time for his first race of the season.

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still widespread in Japan, the race weekend was conducted in a similar manner to Round 2, with solo time on the track and free practice on Saturday, and Qualifying and the race on Sunday. Light rain started to fall Saturday morning for the solo sessions, but the sky and track were dry for the free practice session. The afternoon session was red-flagged before its scheduled end, leaving many drivers to attempt to qualify without simulating a time attack.

On the following day, Qualifying was underway in dry, sunny conditions. In Q1, divided into two groups A and B, Sette Câmara (#50) in Group B was initially out of contention for Q2, running eighth. But, due to the session being stopped by a red flag, and the driver causing the red flag being disqualified, Sette Câmara was into Q2. Not only did he then set the fourth-fastest time in Q2, but was the fastest in Q3, earning his first SUPER FORMULA pole position for his debut in the series. This was astonishing, since Sette Câmara, an experienced driver elsewhere, was a rookie in SUPER FORMULA, and had never raced in Japan, including Sportsland SUGO. Tomoki Nojiri (TEAM MUGEN #16) qualified fifth, and Ukyo Sasahara (TEAM MUGEN #15) eighth.

The race started just after 2:40 pm, and despite increased cloud coverage, the track remained dry. Pole-sitter Sette Câmara did not have the start he had hoped for, moving down a place. On the other hand, Naoki Yamamoto (DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING #5) who was tenth on the grid, was off the mark quickly, avoided being caught up in the accident at the first turn, passed Nojiri (#16) and was up to fourth.

Yamamoto (#5) used the overtake system to move up to third, and once he had Sette Câmara in his sights, moved up to second on Lap 18. At this stage Sette Câmara pitted for tires, but at Turn 4 on his out lap, he went off the track as his tires had not warmed up enough, and was out of the race.

Sette Câmara‘s incident brought the safety car onto the track, slowing proceedings down until Lap 28. On the restart, Yamamoto (#5) had problems with now-cold tires, and slipped back to third place. Nojiri (#16) was hot on the tail of Yamamoto (#5), posing a serious threat at times, but Yamamoto (#5) stood his ground for a hard-earned third place on the podium. Nojiri (#16) crossed the finish line fourth. Tadasuke Makino (TCS NAKAJIMA RACING #64) was seventh, and Nirei Fukuzumi (DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING #6) tenth, both finishing within the points.

Comments

Naoki Yamamoto | DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING #5 (3rd)
“Finishing third on the podium, I fell like I’ve made a step forward. I could perform as well as I wanted in Qualifying because of the traffic, so I was determined to get ahead in the race. I used the overtake system early in the race, trying to get ahead, so when I wanted to overtake drivers in front of me at the end, there wasn’t much left to use. But considering my pace at the end, I may not have been able to get ahead even with the overtake system, so in hindsight I made the right choice.”

Tomoki Nojiri | TEAM MUGEN #16 (4th)
“My feeling in the rain on Saturday was not bad. The track dried in the afternoon, and everything was okay, but we were unlucky that the session ended early, and I couldn’t get in a fast lap, so there was some uncertainty. The car was running well, and I set the fastest time in Q2. We couldn’t fix all our problems in Q3, so I was down to fifth. I have a great start in the race, but Yamamoto passed me on Lap 1. After that, I could not keep up with the three cars in front. Still, I managed to finish fourth, so I think it was the best we could do.”

Results

Rank # Drivers Team
1 1 Nick Cassidy VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S
TOYOTA/TRD 01F
2 20 Ryo Hirakawa ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL
TOYOTA/TRD 01F
3 5 Naoki Yamamoto DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
4 16 Tomoki Nojiri TEAM MUGEN
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
5 18
Yuji Kunimoto
carrozzeria Team KCMG
TOYOTA/TRD 01F
6 3
Kenta Yamashita
KONDO RACING
TOYOTA/TRD 01F
7 64 Tadasuke Makino TCS NAKAJIMA RACING
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
       
10 6 Nirei Fukuzumi DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
12 65 Toshiki Oyu TCS NAKAJIMA RACING
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
  12 Koudai Tsukakoshi ThreeBond Drago CORSE
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
  15 Ukyo Sasahara TEAM MUGEN
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E
  50 Sergio Sette Camara Buzz Racing with B-Max
HONDA/M-TEC HR-417E

Photos

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Naoki Yamamoto

Tomoki Nojiri

Tomoki Nojiri

Tomoki Nojiri

Tomoki Nojiri

Tadasuke Makino

Tadasuke Makino

Tadasuke Makino

Tadasuke Makino

Tadasuke Makino

Nirei Fukuzumi

Koudai Tsukakoshi

Ukyo Sasahara

Ukyo Sasahara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Sergio Sette Camara

Latest News