May 30, 2018

Yamamoto won two races in a row, and solidified the top spot

Series name: 2018 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 3
Round name: 2018 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 3
Course: 3.704km x 68 laps (251.872km)
Qualifying: May 26 (Sat) / Fine / Attendance 7,700 (Announcement from the organizer)
Race: May 27 (Sun) / Fine / Attendance 16,500 (Announcement from the organizer)


2018 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 3 took place at the Sportsland SUGO in Miyagi Prefecture. The race was held in late summer in previous year, but this year in late spring. TEAM MUGEN joined the race with two cars, #16 Naoki Yamamoto along with #15 Daniel Ticktum in place of Nirei Fukuzumi who would join FIA-F2 championship. #15 Ticktum is the winner of the renowned 2017 Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 World Cup. He has never competed in any races categorized as upper classes than that of F3.


May 26 (Sat)

Free Practice
#15 Daniel Ticktum, (Best time: 00:01:06.193 – 11th place)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Best time: 00:01:06.440 – 16th place)


#15 Daniel Ticktum tried the track of the Sportsland SUGO for the first time at proprietary session held on previous day, Friday. He took 25 laps and recorded a time of 00:01:07.777 placing him in 10th position among 19 cars. #16 Naoki Yamamoto did 14 laps with 00:01:07.345, 3rd position among 19 cars.


At 9:00 AM one-hour free session began. Each car was installed with medium tires and appeared on the track, and prepared for the session. Both #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto went off as soon as the free session began and took some laps.


But when in the middle of the session an accident occurred on the track and the session was interrupted by a red flag to cope with it. At this point in the race #16 Naoki Yamamoto was in 5th position and #15 Daniel Ticktum in 9th. After a short period of interruption time the session restarted at 9:37 AM, however, just after that another accident accorded and the session was again interrupted.


Though the session restarted, again another red flag and only 8 minutes were left for the session. #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Daniel Ticktum selected soft tires for the time attack simulations, and entered the course. #16 Naoki Yamamoto ended up the session with a time of 00:01:06.440, 16th place and #15 Daniel Ticktum did 00:01:06.193, 11th.


#15 Daniel Ticktum, (Q1: 10th place 00:01:05:755 / Q2: 9th place 00:01:05:256 / Q3: DNS)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Q1: 3rd place 00:01:05.372 / Q2: 6th place 00:01:05:173 / Q3: 6th place 00:01:05:313)


The Q1 session got underway under 24℃ degree temperature with a track temperature of 41℃ at 1:20 PM. #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto entered the course both with medium tires. After installation of the second set of medium tires, #16 Naoki Yamamoto recorded a time of 00:01:05.372 placing him in 3rd position. #15 Daniel Ticktum did 00:01:06.010, in 11th position and then the session was interrupted by a red flag.


With 2 minutes and 20 seconds remaining, the session resumed. #16 Naoki Yamamoto once chose soft tires, however, changed them to medium ones and went back to track but then came back to the pit without making better laps. On the other hand #15 Daniel Ticktum shortened his time to 00:01:05.755 and moved up to 10th position and #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Daniel Ticktum were both able to move on to Q2.


7-minute official Q2 qualifying session began at 2:15 PM. #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto came among the mid group with a choice of soft tires. They took 2 laps to warm up the tires, and tried time attack. As the result #15 Daniel Ticktum recorded a time of 00:01:05.256, and #16 Naoki Yamamoto did 00:01:05.173. #16 Naoki Yamamoto was in 8th place and could move on to Q3, but #15 Daniel Ticktum was in 9th position and could not make it.


After 10 minutes interval the official Q2 qualifying session started at 2:32 PM. #16 Naoki Yamamoto waited at the pit till 6 minutes left before the end of the session, and tried a time attack. The result was 00:01:05.313 placing him in 6th place.


May 27 (Sun)


Free Practice #15 Daniel Ticktum, (Best time: 00:01:07.425 – 8th place / 18 laps)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Best time: 00:01:07.743 – 9th place / 15 laps)


30-minute free practice began from 9:00 AM on Sunday morning. Thin clouds in the sky and the outside temperature was 21℃ with a track temperature of 32℃. #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto both used soft tires at the first half of the session. On the latter half of the session medium tires were chosen and its feelings were confirmed. The session was interrupted once with a red flag, though, #15 Daniel Ticktum took 18 laps with a record of 00:01.07.425 placing him in 2nd place, and #16 Naoki Yamamoto did 15 laps with a time of 00:01:07.743, 9th place.


#15 Daniel Ticktum, DNF (14 laps / 00:18:16.397 / Best lap: 00:01:09.331)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, 1st place (68 laps / 01:26:22.912 / Best lap: 00:01:08.449)


In advance of the race 8-minute warming up session was held from 1:30 PM. #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto began the session with a choice of medium tires, and #15 Daniel Ticktum did the final confirmation with a time of 00:01:09.481, 8th place and #16 Naoki Yamamoto did a time of 00:01:09.262, 5th place.


Formation lap went underway 4 minutes later than scheduled at 2:19 PM. The outside temperature was 24℃ with a track temperature of 41℃ under thin clouds in the sky. #15 Daniel Ticktum chose a strategy to use medium tires and #16 Naoki Yamamoto did soft tires.


When the race began, #15 Daniel Ticktum and #16 Naoki Yamamoto got off to good start. #16 Naoki Yamamoto moved up to 5th position and #15 Daniel Ticktum in 6th. As the race went on, both of them gradually started to slow. Especially #15 Daniel Ticktum struggled due to a car behind chasing him aggressively.


At 14th lap #15 Daniel Ticktum was chased by light-weight #17 due to its strategy to go back to the pit twice, and was caught up with the car just before the SP corner. At such a moment, the wheels of both cars contacted and #15 Daniel Ticktum went out of the track. The rim of the right rear tire was cracked and the tire was almost coming off. He had no choice but to slow down and came back to the pit.


At the pit tires including the rim were all replaced, and the car was sent back to the course. But the accident damaged the suspension and #15 Daniel Ticktum could not keep up the pace and came back to the pit after 1 lap and made a decision to retire from the race.


#16 Naoki Yamamoto kept his position, 5th and had been waiting for a chance for tire change. At 16th lap an accident occurred at Umanose (House-back) corner, and as soon as a SC entered the track, #16 Naoki Yamamoto took a pit stop for tire change and refueling.


On the other hand #4 going in front of #16 Naoki Yamamoto continued to go following the SC. When #16 Naoki Yamamoto came back to the course, his position was 9th and then followed the SC. Since other 8 cars going in front of #16 Naoki Yamamoto decided to stay on the tack, he was placed in a quite good situation.


At 26th lap #16 Naoki Yamamoto moved up to apparent 7th position. Then he could have some cars between #3 which changed tires before the SC appeared and was chasing #16 Naoki Yamamoto and him.


At the latter half of the race cars in a top group came back to the pit one after another. In the end at 62nd lap #16 Naoki Yamamoto moved up to the top and took the checkered flag. He won the race successively following the winning of the opening race, Suzuka. As the result, #16 Naoki Yamamoto gained 10 driver’s points totally 21 points, 11 points ahead the second winner, and solidified the top spot. TEAM MUGEN also gained 10 team points and is ranked in the top, 9 points ahead the second winning team.


Comments from #16 Naoki Yamamoto

Frankly speaking, I did not expect to win this race. The reasons why I could win the race is the best timing of pit stop planned by the team and overtaking two cars going in front which also could separate the car in the second position from me after the SC appeared. I was directed to go back to the pit when I was going on the Umanose (House-back) corner. While the SC was on the track, I made the tires warmed up and tried to concentrate on overtaking the car going in front rather than paying attention to the car behind. I did my best last year, however, everything went wrong. But today all the things went well. God knows.


Comments from #15 Daniel Ticktum

On Monday morning I arrived at the air por. This is the very first time for me to come to Japan, and at the same time the very first time to try super formula car. In terms of power, braking, down-force and so odds, everything was different level from the ones I have ever experienced. I believe 9th place at Q2 was not bad. The reason why I selected the medium tires was that I felt difficulty in controlling the overtake function and made a decision to take as many laps as possible to be familiar with it and Super formula race. The result was not good, but at least I experienced the race much enough to be familiar with soft tires and get prepared for the next race.


Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka

#16 Naoki Yamamoto ‘s pit stop timing was so perfect. Team members also got all ready for his coming back to the pit. After his leaving from the pit, we did not realize the situation of #16 for a bit while, but when the race was stabilized, I noticed that we could get on the podium at this race. Overtaking two cars after the race resumed could also contribute to winning this race. I would like to applause starting of #15 Daniel Ticktum. He was so quick and his driving at the first corner was fabulous. Since he was the top among the cars with medium tires, the accident was so regrettable. He is young enough to accept today’s race as it is and get ready for the next. I do look forward to his gaining points at the 4th race. We will well prepare for the rest of the races and gain more points.