May 16, 2018

Race was canceled due to the bad weather conditions

Series name: 2018 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 2
Round name: AUTOPOLIS SUPER 2and4 RACE 2018
Course: 4.674km x 54 laps (252.396km)
Qualifying: May 12 (Sat) / Fine / Attendance 3,650 (Announcement from the organizer)
Race: May 13 (Sun) / Rainy / Attendance 4,750 (Announcement from the organizer)


2018 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 2 took place at the Autopolis International Racing Course in Oita Prefecture. TEAM MUGEN joined the race with two cars, #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Sena Sakaguchi. In place of Nerei Fukuzumi who left for Barcelona, Spain to join FIA-F2 championship, Sakaguchi took part in this race meaning that he debuted at the top formula race this time. Two compounds of tires, soft and medium, were required for use in the race by regulation. At the same time during the race week all the team can use two sets of used tires, those of new soft and medium tires, totally 6 sets of tires..


May 11 (Fri)

On Friday free session was held in dry condition. #16 Naoki Yamamoto took 11 laps and his time was 00:01:28.658, the best time among all the participants. On the other hand #15 Sena Sakaguchi did 20 laps and his time was 00:01:30.972, 19th among 19 cars.


May 12 (Sat)

Free Practice
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Best time: 00:01:27.549 – 6th place)
#15 Sena Sakaguchi, (Best time: 00:01:28.482 – 16th place)

Under the fine weather the free session began at 10:00 AM. The session was interrupted by a red flag 7 minutes after it started. #16 Naoki Yamamoto recorded a time of 00:01:28.715 in first half of the session and was positioned among the top group and came back to the pit.


#15 Sena Sakaguchi took some laps to adjust his car and be familiar with the formula race and gradually speeded up. 10 minutes before the session ended. He came back to the pit to get prepared for a time attack. He performed a time attack along with #16 Naoki Yamamoto with used medium tires. As the result #16 Naoki Yamamoto was positioned in 6th place among 19 cars, and #15 Sena Sakaguchi was in 16th.


#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Q1: 2nd place 00:01:27.123 / Q2: 5th place 00:01:26:292 / Q3: 7th place 00:01:26:714)
#15 Sena Sakaguchi, (Q1: 7th place 00:01:27:393 / Q2: 11th place 00:01:26:964 / Q3: DNS)

The moment the course opened, both #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Sena Sakaguchi entered the course. They took 2 laps to warm up tires, and performed time attacks. Firstly #16 Naoki Yamamoto recorded the fastest lap, 00:01:27.874 then just after #15 Sena Sakaguchi recorded the faster one, 00:01:27.667 and became the top. Since no cars could beat their times, #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Sena Sakaguchi came back to the pit and TEAM MUGEN advanced to Q2 with 1-2 finish.


7-minute Q2 session started at 4:20 PM. Each car was installed with soft tires and awaited for the time attack timing. When there was 5 minutes remaining in the session, #15 Sena Sakaguchi entered the course, so did #16 Naoki Yamamoto when in 4 minutes and warmed up the tires and performed time attacks. #15 Sena Sakaguchi recorded a time of 00:01:26.964, 5th position, and #16 Naoki Yamamoto did 00:01:26.292, 2nd position. But then other cars recorded better times and #15 Sena Sakaguchi lost his position down to 11th and could not advance to Q3. #16 Naoki Yamamoto remained 2nd position and got a chance to compete in Q3.


Q3 session started at 4:40 PM. #16 Naoki Yamamoto waited in the pit and when other cars finished warming up their tires, he appeared on the course. He then started to warm up the tires, and tried the last time attack, however, could not mark the expected time, and finished the Q3 session with a time of 00:01:26.714 and his starting grid was determined to be 7th position and 11th for #15 Sena Sakaguchi.


May 13 (Sun)

Free Practice

It started to rain from the previous night, and in the morning the rain itself eased off, however, it was quite foggy that time schedule was adjusted and the free practice in the morning was postponed and canceled in the end.



20-minute warming up session was prepared for the race from 1:20 PM. It drizzled and the course surface was wet. Both #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Sena Sakaguchi entered the course with rain tires. A red flag was waved 28 minutes after the session started. At this moment #16 Naoki Yamamoto took 3 laps and recorded a time of 00:01:40.543, 2nd position, and #15 Sena Sakaguchi did 00:01:42.093, 8th position. Then it started to rain so heavily that the session was cancelled.

The rain got heavier and fog came out and the race was postponed, but the weather could not be expected to get better. With the result of a consultation, the race was cancelled.

Comments from #16 Naoki Yamamoto

Tires set up in advance helped me to go out in good shape. I could record the time as I expected till the Q1 session. At Q2 and Q3 session I believed that I could maneuver the sessions without any mistakes, however, could not record better times, which was surprising to me. I would like to analyze what was going on during the sessions with team members and get ready for the next race. I feel so sorry for the fans since the race was cancelled. I would like to show the best performance at the next race. Please keep on supporting me.


Comments from #15 Sena Sakaguchi

First of all I would thank the team for giving me an opportunity to take part in the top formula race. I was so nervous since all the competitors were experienced top drivers. But I tried to believe in myself and in fact could control the car much better than I supposed, which was quite surprising to me, though. I thank the team for preparing the well-set up car and furthermore adjustment to my driving. I was so perplexed at the Q2 session due to change of the road condition and soft tires which I barely tried before.


Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka

During free practices from Friday to Saturday we concentrated on confirming the setting of the tires and helping Sakaguchi to be familiar with driving a formula car. At qualifying #16 Naoki Yamamoto could deal with Q1 easily, however, struggled with recording better times at Q2 and Q3. This could attribute to somehow conceit of the lap recorded at the session in a previous day. Anyway we need to analyze such result for the next race. I was so happy but rather astonished at the result of #15 Sena Sakaguchi driving his car with medium tires at Q1. He at the same time had to perform the time attack as soon as he entered the course with brand-new soft tires. He seemed to be so perplexed then. I am proud of him since he could achieve his object, advancing to Q2. I am looking forward to his future. We prepared wet tires for the race, but due to heavy rain, the race was canceled. It was so regrettable not to be able to show the audience our performance. Please look forward to our performance at next race.