Tomorrow sees Round4 of the 2015 Japanese Championship Super Formula from Twin Ring Motegi, as the season hits mid-point.
This year has seen a lot of fluctuating results and a real lack of consistency from several drivers and teams, but so far, Hiroaki Ishiura has kept clear for three very strong points hauls to keep him at the head of the standings. It’s little surprise then that Ishiura was the man to beat in Q3, laying down a clean and controlled 1:32.657 to snatch pole. It wasn’t by much though, as Tomoko Nojiri upheld the Honda honours by slotting in just 0.02 behind Ishiura - translating it into a good result could give his championship hopes an important boost. The driver who sits just two points back from Ishiura in the standings, J.P Oliveira, banked a comfortable fourth position to keep the pressure firmly on. He couldn’t break the 1:32 barrier, though - that was only achieved by the first three positions - making the breakaway results of Ishiura and Nojiri all the more impressive.
James Rossiter endured another bout of disastrous luck, as he barely got the car moving in Q1 before he was forced to pull off the track. FUJIxD’station Kondo had a poor day all round, as Will Buller also fell out in Q1, only mustering 17th position.
Looking ahead to the race, Ishiura will be looking to make the break that worked so well at Okayama. Not only will Oliveira be looking to attack with one eye on the championship, but both Petronas TOM’S cars will be looking to move up the field together from fifth and seventh on the grid. Strategy gambles could be key in gaining them places, so INGING will need to be ready to cover off all possibilities. Both TOM’S engineers have stressed the importance of the opening laps of the race and how the strategy hinges around them, but making jumps early could prove pivotal in keeping their options open.
The final thing to bear in mind is the summer heat and humidity. Motegi is a stop start track, with low speed balance and traction being key - this takes its toll on tyres. The turbos will also be struggling in the hot air - this will make OTS quite a powerful overtaking tool, and careful use could prove extremely useful in the closing stages of the race.
I will be doing my best to live Tweet the action as always at @FR_Racing, and I’m sure it’ll be eventful as always. The race will start at 6am UK time.