Super Formula has revealed the qualifying draw for this weekend’s Motegi season opener after changing its regulations for the 2020 season.
This year, Japan’s premier single-seater series has elected to split the first qualifying segment into two groups, with the top seven from each progressing to Q2.
Previously, all drivers would contest Q1 with the top 12 progressing to Q2 and then the fastest eight in the second phase moving into the Q3 pole shootout.
With the new format, seven drivers from each Q1 group will progress, meaning there will now be 14 drivers fighting over eight Q3 spots in Q2.
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The driver line-up for the Q1 groups was revealed after Saturday morning’s first practice session, which was topped by 2019 Motegi race winner Ryo Hirakawa (Team Impul).
Because there are only 19 cars racing at Motegi following B-Max Racing/Motopark slimming down to a single car for the weekend, there is an uneven split between the two groups, with Group A only featuring nine drivers and Group B featuring 10 drivers. No two drivers from the same team feature in the same group.
Reigning champion Nick Cassidy (TOM’S) was drawn in Group A and will be joined by 2019 title rivals Naoki Yamamoto (Dandelion Racing) and Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing), as well as Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul), who topped Friday’s test session.
Hirakawa will be in Group B, and will face opposition from Honda young guns Nirei Fukuzumi (Dandelion) and Tadasuke Makino (Nakajima Racing) as well as Toyota WEC stars Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG) and Kazuki Nakajima (TOM’S).
Qualifying will take place on Sunday morning at 10.05am local time, ahead of the 35-lap race at 14.15 as part of a new condensed weekend schedule for 2020.
Super Formula Motegi qualifying groups:
Group A: Nick Cassidy, Kenta Yamashita, Naoki Yamamoto, Tomoki Nojiri, Yuji Kunimoto, Yuhi Sekiguchi, Sho Tsuboi, Teppei Natori, Toshiki Oyu.
Group B: Sacha Fenestraz, Nirei Fukuzumi, Kamui Kobayashi, Tatiana Calderon, Kazuya Oshima, Ukyo Sasahara, Ryo Hirakawa, Kazuki Nakajima, Hiroaki Ishiura, Tadasuke Makino.
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