Super Formula: Nick Cassidy wins in stop-and-go race at Suzuka
The 2019 Japanese Super Formula Championship kicked-off this weekend with the race at Suzuka Circuit. In the race marked by four Safety Car periods, just twelve of twenty cars reached the finish line, and a victory goes to Nick Cassidy in the #37 Vantelin Tom’s Toyota. For the 24-year-old New Zealander, it’s his second Super Formula victory in a career.
Cassidy shared a podium with defending champion Naoki Yamamoto (#1 Dandelion Racing Honda) and Kenta Yamashita (#3 Kondo Racing Toyota). The other point scorers in the top 8 are Tomoki Nojiri (Team Mugen), Sho Tsuboi (P.mu Cerumo Inging), Yuji Kunimoto (Kondo Racing), Lucas Auer (B-Max with Motopark) and Dan Ticktum (Team Mugen).
The race started with two rookies from the same team (TCS Nakajima Racing) on the front row. The pole-sitter was Tadasuke Makino and Alex Palou was next to him. Makino defended his lead while Palou lost P2 to Naoki Yamamoto. Not far from then Palou regained P2 thanks to OTS (overtake system).
Nakajima Racing’s 1-2 lead was ruined when Palou received a drive-through penalty for start procedure violation. On lap 6, Nick Cassidy was the first to enter the pits and changed from medium to soft tires.
The race was then stopped because Ryo Hirakawa (Team Impul) and Tristan Charpentier (Real Racing) crashed in the 130R corner. Most of the drivers pitted during the Safety Car period, except Kamui Kobayashi, Yuji Kunimoto and Alex Palou, who took the first three positions. Team Impul’s race became even worse when Yuhi Sekiguchi retired due to technical issues.
Soon after the restart, the race was stopped again when Kazuki Nakajima (Tom’s) and Harrison Newey (B-max Motopark) stuck in Degner corner in two separate incidents. Hiroaki Ishiura retired during the SC period.
On the restart, Alex Palou used OTS and overtook Kobayashi. But, he was in the lead just for a few moments, stopping due to some technical failure. The third SC period was called to move Palou’s car. The next victim was Palou’s teammate Tadasuke Makino who crashed at Spoon corner after a tire exploded on his car.
At the final restart, Kamui Kobayashi was in front of Nick Cassidy and Naoki Yamamoto. Kobayashi was the only driver in the field that didn’t make mandatory pitstop. He did that on the penultimate lap, dropping to P9 and not earning either one single point.