Motegi Super Formula: Hirakawa leads Palou in practice

Impul’s Ryo Hirakawa topped the first practice for the Motegi round of Super Formula series, ahead of Fuji race winner Alex Palou.

Motegi Super Formula: Hirakawa leads Palou in practice

Hirakawa’s blistering time of 1m31.925s came in the dying minutes of the session, and he ended up 0.376s clear of his nearest challenger Palou.

Palou (Nakajima Racing) managed to successfully return on track towards the end of practice after getting beached in the gravel at the 20-minute mark. 

The Spaniard’s off-track excursion necessitated a red flag that lasted nearly 15 minutes, and forced race control to extend the session by five minutes.

When the red flag was deployed, Kazuki Nakajima held the top spot for TOM’S with a time of 1m33.467s.

That lap remained unbeaten until the final quarter of the session, when Red Bull junior Patricio O’Ward climbed to the top with his 1m33.338s flyer.

Hirakawa deposed him during the five-minute extension to end quickest in practice, while a flurry of quick times from others left O’Ward seventh.

Kondo Racing’s Kenta Yamashita jumped up to third behind Hirakawa and Palou, but ahead of the second Impul car of Yuhi Sekiguchi.

Nakajima Racing driver Tadasuke Makino was classified fifth ahead of reigning Japanese F3 champion Sho Tsuboi (Inging) and the aforementioned O’Ward.

Nakajima slipped to eighth in the final classification, while the top 10 was completed by Formula 2 convert Artem Markelov (LeMans) and Tomoki Nojiri (Mugen).

Championship leaders Naoki Yamamoto and Nick Cassidy wound up 17th and 18th respectively after both elected not to run the faster soft tyre.

Practice results:

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 Japan Ryo Hirakawa
Team Impul 1'31.925
2 Spain Alex Palou
TCS Nakajima Racing 1'32.301 0.376
3 Japan Kenta Yamashita
Kondo Racing 1'32.315 0.390
4 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi
Team Impul 1'32.449 0.524
5 Japan Tadasuke Makino
TCS Nakajima Racing 1'32.710 0.785
6 Japan Sho Tsuboi
JMS 1'32.961 1.036
7 Mexico Patricio O'Ward
Team Mugen 1'33.338 1.413
8 Japan Kazuki Nakajima
Vantelin Team TOM'S 1'33.445 1.520
9 Russian Federation Artem Markelov
UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans 1'33.446 1.521
10 Japan Tomoki Nojiri
Team Mugen 1'33.503 1.578
11 Japan Koudai Tsukakoshi
Real Racing 1'33.783 1.858
12 Japan Kazuya Oshima
UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans 1'33.90 1.975
13 Austria Lucas Auer
B-MAX with Motopark 1'33.941 2.016
14 United Kingdom Harrison Newey
B-MAX with Motopark 1'33.943 2.018
15 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi
DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'34.042 2.117
16 Japan Hiroaki Ishiura
JMS 1'34.354 2.429
17 Japan Naoki Yamamoto
DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 1'34.559 2.634
18 New Zealand Nick Cassidy
Vantelin Team TOM'S 1'34.577 2.652
19 Japan Yuji Kunimoto
Kondo Racing 1'34.790 2.865
20 Japan Kamui Kobayashi
carrozzeria Team KCMG 1'35.134 3.209
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