Pierre Gasly has won the latest Super Formula race at the Autopolis in Japan while Kiwi driver Nick Cassidy has crashed out late in the race.
“It was a tough day in this office,” commented Cassidy. “I struggled from this morning with something strange. A good opening lap in the race put me in 10th from 16th on the grid – before pitting early from Soft -> Medium. My (race) pace wasn’t good, and we’re dropping backwards before an off meant I didn’t finish. However there are some positives from the weekend which I’ll take to the next one”
The new Autopolis course lap record holder Tomoki Nojiri was the pole sitter for Round 5. He got off to a slow start to the race allowing fifth grid starter Pierre Gasly to jump into second place.
During lap 24 Gasly went pitted. His short pit time of 12.4 sec would prove to be the difference at the end of the day.
Nojiri continued his lead, but still needed to change tires. So on paper, it was Gasly’s race to lose, as he was running in sixth, but the cars in front of him still needed to take care of the mandatory tire change. Behind Gasly was Felix Rosenqvist, who had already pitted on lap 4. But the question still remained whether he had enough fuel, and also if the soft tires would last until the end of the 250 km (54 lap) race.
Nojiri pitted on lap 39, but it took his team far too long to add fuel, so he lost valuable time. Shortly after, Nojiri crashed ending his hopes for a victory.
In the end, it was Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly who took the checkered—his second consecutive Super Formula victory. Felix Rosenqvist took second, and Rosenqvist’s teammate Kazuya Oshima captured third for his first podium this season. Both Rosenqvist and Gasly still have a very good chance to win the season championship with two Rounds (3 races) remaining in the 2017 season.
Hiroaki Ishiura finished the race in 4th place, Kunimoto in 5th, Kazuki Nakajima in 6th, Kamui Kobayashi in 7th, and Jann Mardenborough in 8th.