Suzuka Super Formula: Fukuzumi scores maiden pole

Dandelion Racing's Nirei Fukuzumi scored his first career Super Formula pole at Suzuka, edging out fellow Honda driver Tomoki Nojiri by just under two tenths of a second.

Suzuka Super Formula: Fukuzumi scores maiden pole

Ex-Formula 2 racer Fukuzumi set his fastest time of 1m36.449s in the dying moments of the Q3 pole shootout to take the top spot by 0.196s ahead of championship leader Nojiri.

Fukuzumi had topped the morning practice session earlier in the day as well as his Q1 group and Q2 on his way to a first pole position in a single-seater since the Jerez GP3 round in 2017.

Behind Fukuzumi and Nojiri, Toshiki Oyu completed an all-Honda top three for Nakajima Racing, 0.224s off the pace.

Ryo Hirakawa (Impul) was the fastest of the Toyota contingent in fourth place, a further tenth back, ahead of Ukyo Sasahara - again standing in for Tadasuke Makino at Dandelion Racing.

Three more Toyota-powered drivers completed the Q3 order, with Ritomo Miyata (TOM'S) sixth ahead of Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul) and debutant Giuliano Alesi (TOM'S).

Standing for the absent Kazuki Nakajima this weekend, Alesi impressed with the second-fastest time in his Q1 group and was fifth in Q2, but ended up slowest in Q3 with a time 0.901s off the pace.

Defending champion Naoki Yamamoto (Nakajima Racing) was the biggest name knocked out in Q2, as he ended up 10th in the second segment behind the Mugen machine of Hiroki Otsu.

Nobuharu Matsushita qualified a respectable 12th on B-Max's return to the series after both team and driver skipped the season opener at Fuji, despite losing precious time in practice with an electrical issue that forced him to stop on track and brought out the red flags.

Both winning SUPER GT drivers from Okayama struggled, as Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) was slowest in Q2 on his way to 14th, while Kazuya Oshima (Rookie Racing) was knocked out in Q1 and will start 16th.

Tatiana Calderon couldn't replicate her impressive qualifying showing from Fuji and will line up 19th and last on the grid in the solo Drago Corse car.

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Q3 results:

Pos No. Driver Team Time Gap
1 5 JPN Nirei Fukuzumi DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'36.449  
2 16 JPN Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1'36.645 0.196
3 64 JPN Toshiki Oyu TCS Nakajima Racing 1'36.673 0.224
4 20 JPN Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 1'36.794 0.345
5 6 JPN Ukyo Sasahara DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'36.810 0.361
6 37 JPN Ritomo Miyata Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1'36.919 0.470
7 19 JPN Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 1'37.078 0.629
8 36 FRA Giuliano Alesi Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1'37.350 0.901

Q2 results:

Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap
1 5 JPN Nirei Fukuzumi DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'36.646  
2 16 JPN Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1'36.936 0.290
3 64 JPN Toshiki Oyu TCS Nakajima Racing 1'36.978 0.332
4 19 JPN Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 1'36.987 0.341
5 36 FRA Giuliano Alesi Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1'37.099 0.453
6 20 JPN Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 1'37.119 0.473
7 6 JPN Ukyo Sasahara DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'37.165 0.519
8 37 JPN Ritomo Miyata Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1'37.250 0.604
9 15 JPN Hiroki Otsu Red Bull MUGEN Team Goh 1'37.310 0.664
10 1 JPN Naoki Yamamoto TCS Nakajima Racing 1'37.426 0.780
11 38 JPN Sho Tsuboi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 1'37.502 0.856
12 51 JPN Nobuharu Matsushita B-Max Racing 1'37.594 0.948
13 18 JPN Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 1'37.736 1.090
14 3 JPN Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 1'37.849 1.203
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