Nick Cassidy scored his first Super Formula pole in more than two years for the second leg of this weekend’s Suzuka double header, setting another new course record.
Reigning champion Cassidy, who is leaving the series at the end of the year to move to Formula E, improved on the benchmark set in Saturday’s qualifying session by Naoki Yamamoto, posting a lap of 1m34.442s in the Q3 pole shootout.
That put the TOM’S driver 0.182s clear of nearest rival Toshiki Oyu for Nakajima Racing, while Ukyo Sasahara was third for Team Mugen.
Cassidy was almost eliminated in Q1, as he was only a tenth clear of the elimination zone after doing just one run instead of two, but he recovered to top both Q2 and the critical final segment, boosting his title defence with three bonus points.
Dandelion Racing man Yamamoto could not match his Saturday pole time, but will line up third on the grid with Sasahara set to take a grid penalty for an engine change in the wake of his major Turn 1 crash during Saturday’s race.
Nirei Fukuzumi was fifth-fastest in the second Dandelion car, followed by Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG), Cassidy’s TOM’S teammate Kazuki Nakajima and French youngster Charles Milesi, who made it into Q3 for B-Max Racing in only his second attempt.
Saturday podium finisher Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG) and Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul) were the fastest drivers to drop out in Q2 and will start ninth and 10th.
Ryo Hirakawa, who lost his points lead in Saturday’s race after being taken out in a crash with Sasahara at Turn 1, was the biggest name to drop out in the second segment.
The Impul driver will start down in 14th place after setting his best time with around three minutes left on the clock and then pitting, running out of time to go out again.
Behind Hirakawa on the grid will be surprise Q1 dropouts Nobuharu Matsushita (B-Max Racing) and Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Racing), although even more unexpected was Tomoki Nojiri’s failure to progress from his Q1 group.
Nojiri had qualified second on Saturday but was only ninth-fastest in his group, and will therefore start 18th behind Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing).
Tatiana Calderon (Drago Corse) will make her second Suzuka start from 19th on the grid.
|1||1||Nick Cassidy||Vantelin Team TOM’S||1’34.442|
|2||65||Toshiki Oyu||TCS Nakajima Racing||1’34.624||0.182|
|3||15||Ukyo Sasahara||Team Mugen||1’34.871||0.429|
|4||5||Naoki Yamamoto||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1’34.891||0.449|
|5||6||Nirei Fukuzumi||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||1’34.981||0.539|
|6||7||Kamui Kobayashi||carrozzeria Team KCMG||1’35.005||0.563|
|7||36||Kazuki Nakajima||Vantelin Team TOM’S||1’35.123||0.681|
|8||51||Charles Milesi||Buzz Racing with B-Max||1’35.492||1.050|
|View full results|
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