NISSAN MOTORSPORTS

August 26, 2013

NISSAN'S FUJINAMI STRUGGLES IN RAINY RACES

Formula Challenge Japan Rounds 8 - 9 Race Report

Fuji Speedway, Shizuoka prefecture (24-25 June, 2013) - Rounds 8 and 9 of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) were held at Fuji Speedway, where Nissan Driver Development Program (NDDP) member Kiyoto Fujinami (#14) took 15th place in Round 8, and 14th place in Round 9.

The weekend's pair of races came after a two-month interval since the previous rounds. In Friday's practice session, Fujinami finished with the top time, but in difficult conditions in qualifying, in which the previous night's rain slowly dried up, he struggled to warm up his tires, finishing 10th in the Round 8 qualifier, and 9th in the Round 9 session.

Round 8 got underway at 12:20 on Saturday, the 24th. It began raining just before the start, but soon stopped after moistening the track surface. Fujinami started from 10th on the grid, but spun on the opening lap, falling down in the order. However, steady driving thereafter saw him put in a succession of lap times that were on par with the higher ranked drivers. He was able to claw his way back up to 12th place. However, at the final corner on lap 13, he collided with another car. He returned to the pit due to machine damage, and was unable to cross the finish line.

Round 9 took place on Sunday, August 25, but started 15 minutes later than planned due to rain and fog. Fujinami started from ninth on the grid, made an excellent getaway to climb into a points-scoring position (6th) on the opening lap. He continued on at a good pace, gaining on the fifth place driver, but his field of vision was obscured by the water kicked up by the car in front, leaving him unable to seize opportunities to overtake while his tires wore down and his pace dropped off. He fell back to 7th place before crossing the finish line. He then received a penalty after the race for overtaking while out of bounds, giving him an official result of 14th place.

Kiyoto Fujinami (Round 8: 15th, Round 9: 14th)
“This race week came after a gap of about two months, but in Friday's session, I was able to drive well without falling into any of my bad habits. However, in qualifying, those bad habits resurfaced, and I ended up having to start from behind, and I wasn't able to put together a good race. There are only three races left, but I will do my best to be able to win soon.‘

Click images above to see larger versions.

 

[ Race Results ] - Rd.8
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 8 HFDP/SRS-F/ARTA Shota Kiyohara 26'14.692
2 9 FTRS scholarship SMR Shinya Sean Michimi 4.181
3 11 FTRS scholarship FCJ Sho Tsuboi 11.281
15 14 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 2Laps
[ Race Results ] - Rd.9
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 11 FTRS scholarship FCJ Sho Tsuboi 40'58.267
2 1 FTRS FCJ Kenta Yamashita 14.484
3 3 FTRS scholarship FCJ Hiroki Shinotani 17.497
14 14 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 1'27.751

 

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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