It is world class
Autopolis round coming back since 2015 due to huge earthquake in 2016.
Yokohama tyre continue introduce ”2 spec tyre”. But big change in Q1.
JRP decide to limited medium tyre for Q1.
In Q1, all drivers sets medium tyre. The session had passed smoothly. But last 1min, Koudai Tsukakoshi (Real Racing) crashed out. So session was stop.
Session restarted last 3min, everyone tried position up.
Finally Kazuya Oshima (SUNOCO Team LeMans), Nick Cassidy (Kondo Racing), Daisuke Nakajima (Nakajima Racing), Takashi Kogure (B-MAX Racing) drop out from Q1.
In Q2, they sets new soft tyre. Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG) marks record breaking lap and top. Unfortunately Rd,4 pole sitter Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing), Rd.4 3rd finisher Felix Rosenqvist (SUNOCO Team LeMans) are out from Q2.
In Q3 pole showdown start last 6min, Andre Lotterer (Vantelin Team TOM’s) into top first man. But amazing lap for Tomoki Nojiri (Docomo Team Dandelion).
Finally Tomoki Nojiri takes 2nd pole position and sets circuit record 1:26.196.
And first Honda engine pole in this season. 2nd is Yuji Kunimoto (P.MU Cermo・Inging), 3rd is Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG).
In race, drivers and team were very struggled to choice of start tyre and strategy.
However, top group choose medium tyre, only Pierre Gasly (Team Mugen) sets soft tyre.
After the formation lap, race start. pole sitter Tomoki Nojiri (Docomo Team Dandelion) takes hole shot. And great start for Pierre Gasly. Red Bull man jump up 5th to 2nd at turn 1.
Accident for Andre Lotterer (Vantelin Team TOM’s) contact with Naoki Yamamoto (Team Mugen). Lotterer broken suspension, Yamamoto was spun.
Early of race Takashi Kogure (B-MAX Racing) into the pit and change tyre medium to soft+refuel. And interesting move for SUNOCO Team LeMans.
Both Felix Rosenqvist and Kazuya Oshima were pitted and change medium to soft tyre lap4 and 6.
Good pace and overtake show for ITOCHU ENEX Team IMPUL guys, Yuhi Sekiguchi and Jan Mardenborough. Both IMPUL guys seems to 2 stop strategy.
So Sekiguchi into the pit lap 11, and change soft to soft tyre+short refuel.
Top group is no change, Gasly chasing Nojiri but Nojiri hold his position 1.
3rd position Yuji Kunimoto (P.MU Cermo・Inging) straggle the pace and around 10sec from top. 4th runner Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG) into the pit and change medium to soft+refuel. But Kobayashi passed by Hiroaki Ishiura (P.MU Cermo・Inging). Ishiura was done pit 2 lap early than Kobayashi.
Big move for top group lap 23, 2nd runner Pierre Gasly into the pit and change soft to medium+refuel.
But Nojiri didn’t reaction to Gasly’s pit in. His behind man Yuji Kunimoto and Kazuki Nakajima (Vantelin Team TOM’s) were push hard with fuel getting lighter.
Kunimoto catch up to around 2~3 sec.
At the time, Kazuki Nakajima into the pit and change medium to soft tyre+refuel. Kazuki return to 10th.
Lap38, position 1 Tomoki Nojiri into the pit and change medium to soft+ refuel. But his stop is a bit long refuel. So back to 7th. Kunimoto follow to Nojiri’s pit and into the pit next lap. Kunimoto passed Nojiri after the pit, and accident his behind.
Nojiri contact to Kobayashi and lost his front wing.
After the everyone’s pit duty, Gasly back to top. But very surprised to see both SUNOCO Team LeMans guys Rosenqvist and Oshima position up 2nd and 3rd.
Especially Rosenqvist’s pace was not so bad and continue chase to Gasly with around 50 lap running soft tyre. But Gasly control and hold his position.
Finally Pierre Gssly (Team Mugen) finish 1st and great 2 consecutive Super Formula victory! Gasly shows great judgment of start tyre and high flexibility.
2nd is 3rd consecutive podium finish for Felix Rosenqvist. 3rd is long time come back to podium since 2012 Kazuya Oshima.
So SUNOCO Team LeMans complete early pit and very long distance with soft tyre.
Around 50 lap with soft tyre, fantastic strategy and good save tyre and fuel for both driver. Team LeMans gets double podium since 1998!
4th is point leader Hiroaki Ishiura (P.MU Cermo・Inging). Not his day, but 2015 champion steady run and takes important point.
5th is his team mate Yuji Kunimoto (P.MU Cermo・Inging). 6th is Kazuki Nakajima (Vantelin Team TOM’s).
Top of 2 stop strategy for Jan Mardenborogh (ITOCHU ENEX Team IMPUL) 8th and takes fastest lap.
Super Formula is into final 2 race.
Point standing after the Rd.5 http://superformula.net/sf/en/race/2017/standings/
Gasly jump up to 2nd, Rosenqvist goes to 2nd. But Japanese ace Hiroaki Ishiura hold his lead.
More exciting race will come Rd.6 SUGO.