Fuji Super Formula: Nojiri on pole, Yamamoto out in Q1
Mugen Honda driver Tomoki Nojiri scored the first pole position of the 2021 Super Formula season at Fuji Speedway, as defending champion Naoki Yamamoto was sensationally knocked out in Q1.
Nojiri followed up on his pole in last year's Fuji title decider by grabbing the top spot again with a best time of 1m21.173s in the Q3 pole shootout, putting himself 0.223s of nearest rival Toshiki Oyu (Nakajima Racing).
Having led the way in practice on Saturday morning, Nojiri topped both his Q1 group and Q2 on his way to a sixth career pole position.
Behind Oyu, Dandelion Racing pair Ukyo Sasahara - standing in for the recovering Tadasuke Makino - and Nirei Fukuzumi were third- and fourth-fastest to complete an all-Honda top four.
Best of the Toyota runners was Inging rookie Sena Sakaguchi in fifth, ahead of fellow novice Ritomo Miyata (TOM'S) and 2020 title contender Ryo Hirakawa (Impul).
Hiroki Otsu (Mugen) completed the Q3 order, with Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul) and Sho Tsuboi (Inging) taking the remaining spots inside the top 10.
Tatiana Calderon (Drago Corse), the only international driver in the field this weekend, made it out of Q1 for the first time in her Super Formula career on her way to 11th on the grid.
Kazuki Nakajima (TOM'S) had originally made it into Q3, but had his best lap deleted in Q2 for a track limits violation, demoting him to 13th.
Yamamoto's first qualifying session back with Nakajima Racing resulted in a surprise Q1 elimination, as he came within 0.021s of making it through to Q2.
The three-time champion will start 16th, marking his worst grid slot since the 2019 Okayama race.
Kondo Racing also lost both its drivers in Q1, with Sacha Fenestraz's stand-in Yuichi Nakayama qualifying 15th and Kenta Yamashita ending up 18th.
|1||16|| Tomoki Nojiri ||Team Mugen||1'21.173|
|2||64|| Toshiki Oyu ||TCS Nakajima Racing||1'21.396||0.223|
|3||6|| Ukyo Sasahara ||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'21.463||0.290|
|4||5|| Nirei Fukuzumi ||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'21.604||0.431|
|5||39|| Sena Sakaguchi ||P.MU/CERUMO･INGING||1'21.714||0.541|
|6||37|| Ritomo Miyata ||Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S||1'21.793||0.620|
|7||20|| Ryo Hirakawa ||Team Impul||1'21.804||0.631|
|8||15|| Hiroki Otsu ||Red Bull MUGEN Team Goh||1'21.869||0.696|
|View full results|
|1||16|| Tomoki Nojiri ||Team Mugen||1'21.595|
|2||64|| Toshiki Oyu ||TCS Nakajima Racing||1'21.779||0.184|
|3||20|| Ryo Hirakawa ||Team Impul||1'21.850||0.255|
|4||39|| Sena Sakaguchi ||P.MU/CERUMO･INGING||1'21.956||0.361|
|5||37|| Ritomo Miyata ||Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S||1'21.975||0.380|
|6||6|| Ukyo Sasahara ||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'22.000||0.405|
|7||5|| Nirei Fukuzumi ||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1'22.079||0.484|
|8||36|| Kazuki Nakajima ||Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S||1'22.143||0.548|
|9||15|| Hiroki Otsu ||Red Bull MUGEN Team Goh||1'22.361||0.766|
|10||19|| Yuhi Sekiguchi ||Team Impul||1'22.441||0.846|
|11||38|| Sho Tsuboi ||P.MU/CERUMO･INGING||1'22.552||0.957|
|12||12|| Tatiana Calderon ||ThreeBond Drago CORSE||1'22.584||0.989|
|13||18|| Yuji Kunimoto ||KCMG||1'22.973||1.378|
|14||7|| Kazuto Kotaka ||KCMG||1'24.763||3.168|
|View full results|
Alesi grateful for "special" TOM'S Super Formula chance
Yamamoto sorry to new team for "pathetic" Q1 exit