June 24, 2013


Formula Challenge Japan Rounds 5 - 7 Race Report

Fuji Speedway, Shizuoka prefecture (22-23 June, 2013) - Rounds 5 - 7 of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) were held at Fuji Speedway, with the #14 machine of Nissan Driver Development Program (NDDP) driver Kiyoto Fujinami scoring podiums in Rounds 5 and 7.

As this round has three races to underway in same weekend, qualifying was limited to a single session, determining the starting order for Round 5. The grids for the remaining two rounds would be decided by the fastest laps set by each competitor in the previous round. Saturday morning's qualifier saw Fujinami take his third pole position, the youngster's first since Round 2.

Round 5 got started on Saturday, June 22nd at 12:30. Fujinami, who made a calm getaway, finished the opening lap protecting his position at the front. Over the first few laps, he gradually built up a gap over his pursuers, only for a small mistake at the final corner on lap 5 that saw him fall to 2nd place. From that point on, he found it difficult to improve his race pace, and after holding his rivals at bay for a further nine laps, reached the checkered flag in second place, a personal best.

Due to his best time from Round 5, Fujinami took the 16:00 start for Round 6 from seventh spot on the grid. Despite his disappointment from the previous round, he demonstrated strong race pace, advancing two positions in the opening laps. He went further on lap seven, moving into fourth place, before setting the race's fastest lap on lap 11. While he unfortunately didn't make it onto the podium, he was set to start the following day's Round 7 from pole position.

Sunday's (June 23rd) Round 7 had Fujinami starting from pole. With an excellent getaway he maintained the top spot until the middle stages of the race. However, on lap 11 he was overtaken by the group following immediately behind him and fell back. He finished in 3rd place, his second visit to the podium of the weekend.

Kiyoto Fujinami (Round 5: 2nd, Round 6: 4th, Round 7: 3rd)
“I was able to finish 2nd in Round 5, which was a personal best, but I regret not being able to keep the top spot after starting from pole and getting off to a good start. Also, in Round 7, I started out really strong for the first several laps until the group behind me got ahead and from which point I was unable to overcome the pressure and couldn't maintain my driving. I wasn't strong enough mentally this weekend. I have to prepare myself more thoroughly and be mentally stronger next time so that I don't succumb to such pressure.‘

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[ Race Results ] - Rd.5
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 3 FTRS scholarship FCJ Hiroki Shinotani 24'28.289
2 14 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 7.146
3 9 FTRS scholarship SMR Shinya Sean Michimi 7.805
[ Race Results ] - Rd.6
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 3 FTRS scholarship FCJ Hiroki Shinotani 26'08.920
2 5 HFDP / SRS-F / Kochira R Keishi Ishikawa 0.655
3 1 FTRS FCJ Kenta Yamashita 5.227
4 14 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 7.584
[ Race Results ] - Rd.7
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 4 HFDP / SRS-F / Kochira R Tsubasa Takahashi 36'59.656
2 3 FTRS scholarship FCJ Hiroki Shinotani 2.951
3 14 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 3.062


Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ)

Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) is a race series that, through the cooperation of the three automakers Nissan, Toyota and Honda, was founded in 2006 using a new junior formula (open-wheel) car. In FCJ, as the focus is put on improving drivers' skills, participating vehicles are all identical and cannot, under any circumstances, be modified from their original specification. The chassis is built by Italian specialist constructor Tatuus, with engine supply coming from Renault. The three manufacturers Nissan, Toyota, and Honda have all embarked on driver training programs, and support participating drivers. NISSAN's driver training program, NDDP (NISSAN Driver Development Program) is aimed at "training young drivers so they can play an active role in motorsport globally, and also in Japan's top racing categories."

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