Motegi Super Formula: Ishiura grabs pole by 0.051s
Defending Super Formula champion Hiroaki Ishiura clinched his first pole position of the 2018 season in a tightly-contested qualifying session at Motegi.
Honda-powered cars looked to have the upper hand over their Toyota counterparts and it was Koudai Tsukakoshi who was first to set a competitive time, lapping the 4.8km circuit in 1m32.413s.
Former Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan then went quicker with a 1m31.789s flyer, before Dandelion pair Nobuharu Matsushita and Tomoki Nojiri managed to dispatch the Indian from the top of the timesheets.
Ishiura, meanwhile, left it until the very end to set his final qualifying lap, upsetting Nojiri’s previous benchmark by just 0.051s to secure pole position.
Behind the front-row starters, Matsushita and Karthikeyan ended up third and fourth respectively, separated by just 0.028s.
Fuji race winner Nick Cassidy qualified fifth, just over a quarter of a second slower than Ishiura’s new lap record of 1m31.591s, with his Kondo teammate Kenta Yamashita just behind in sixth.
Standings leader Naoki Yamamoto was seventh, while Tsukakoshi was unable to improve on his earlier Q1 benchmark and qualified eighth. The top 10 was completed by Ryo Hirakawa and Yuji Kunimoto.
Joan Paulo de Oliveira qualified 13th on his return to Super Formula, just behind Tom Dillmann and Takuya Izawa but ahead of Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.
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