TCS Nakajima Racing Honda’s Alex Palou headed Kondo Racing Toyota’s Kenta Yamashita on Day 1 of first 2019 Super Formula test at Suzuka.
In a qualifying-like situation late in the day where literally the whole field set their best time in the dying moments of the afternoon session on a drying Suzuka circuit, it was Palou who ended the first day on top with a 1m35.904s in the new 2019 Super Formula car.
The Spaniard improved first to be the lone driver in the 1m35s bracket to not only set the quickest time but also break the lap record.. Kondo’s Yamashita (1m36.223s) came close in second with Team Tom’s’ Toyota’s Nick Cassidy (1m36.436s) in third.
Cassidy’s improvement came after the day ended as he leapfrogged teammate Kazuki Nakajima (1m36.712s) with Team Impul Toyota’s Yuhi Sekiguchi (1m36.730s) rounding out the Top 5. Kondo’s Yuji Kunimoto (1m36.772s) was sixth.
Palou’s teammate Tadasuke Makino (1m36.909s) was close to his teammate until the late flurry of quick laps with the Japanese eventually ending up seventh from fellow Honda junior Dandelion Racing’s Nirei Fukuzumi (1m37.027s).
The Inging Toyota pair of Sho Tsuboi (1m37.163s) and multiple Super Formula winner Hiroaki Ishirua (1m37.290s) completed the Top 10 as the likes of Dan Ticktum, Harrison Newey and Artem Markelov missed out on a Top 10 berth.
They were in the mix early on but as others started to improve on their times, the trio dropped down with Newey (1m37.754s) ending up 13th while Ticktum (1m37.969s) was 15th and Markelov (1m38.224s) 16th.
Reigning champion Naoki Yamamoto was only 17th, with ex-F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi in 19th. Position 11-20: Ryo Hirakawa, Tomoki Nojiri, Newey, Kazuya Oshima, Ticktum, Markelov, Yamamoto, Tristain Charpentier, Kobayashi and Lucas Auer.