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Super Formula Suzuka II

Sato, Nakajima stun Suzuka fans with rare ‘reverse’ demo run

Takuma Sato and Kazuki Nakajima participated in a unique demonstration run during last weekend's Super Formula finale at Suzuka, tackling the track in reverse.

Sato and Nakajima piloted Super Formula’s pair of SF23 development cars, the Honda-powered ‘White Tiger’ and Toyota-powered ‘Red Tiger’ respectively, on Sunday morning ahead of the final round of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix venue.

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However, what started as an ordinary demo took an unexpected twist when Sato and Nakajima used the link road just before the final chicane to start circulating around the track in reverse, and the pair completed a full tour of the circuit in the wrong direction.

The 25,000-strong crowd on Sunday was treated to the extremely rare sight of cars tackling such famous corners as 130R, Spoon and Degner the opposite way to usual.

Sato, who was driving a Super Formula car for the first time since he took part in a demo run with the SF19 five years ago, revealed that running Suzuka in reverse had been his idea.

“Because the regular drivers had just qualified, and the spectators have a good eye, I was worried that they would think, ‘These two old guys are slow…’,” said Sato. “So I asked if we could drive the track in reverse, and it was a lot of fun.

“Even though we are both ex-F1 drivers, it had been quite a while since I drove a car as fast as this one. I was very excited and I stepped on it!”

Nakajima was making his first Super Formula outing since shortly after his decision to retire from competition at the end of 2021, and admitted he was surprised to see how hard Sato was pushing ahead of him.

“Driving the track backwards was incredible,” said the two-time Super Formula champion. “I had a lot of fun, but Takuma-san was driving so quickly, I was thinking, ‘Seriously?’

“I was behind him and I could tell he was playing with the car from the first lap. Even though I could tell he was having fun, I thought I can’t do the same as him! I thought the amount of commitment he was showing on the corner entry was amazing.”

The ‘White Tiger’ and ‘Red Tiger’ development cars are set for their next test at Motegi on November 21 with Koudai Tsukakoshi and Mitsunori Takaboshi in action.

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