KC Motorgroup Ltd. rounded off a challenging weekend as the Hong Kong-based squad tackled Super Formula’s opening event at the Suzuka Circuit last weekend (April 22-23). The season opener also marked Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi’s first Super Formula race with KCMG in the blue and white #18 Toyota-powered SF14.
Kobayashi showed competitive pace throughout the practice sessions – wrapping up one of the free practice runs and warm up session in the top four. Unfortunately, a technical setback resulted in an 18th position start for the race on Sunday.
Determined to recover from the disappointing qualifying results, Kobayashi was off to an excellent start and went up four positions by the end of the opening lap. The team’s strategy also paid off, giving the Japanese driver time to grab fifth position before the mandatory pit stop to replace his rear tyres.
Kobayashi rejoined in 10th position and fiercely fought to move further up the field, while struggling with cold tyres. The highlight of the 35-lap race was the battle between Kobayashi and Pierre Gasly. The former was able to overtake at the chicane, which moved the #18 car from 11th to 10th place.
Following the safety car period, Kobayashi managed to secure ninth place and was consistently setting quick lap times whilst attempting to overtake Takuya Izawa. Ultimately, Kobayashi finished the Japanese championship’s first round in ninth position after starting from the back of the grid.
Kamui Kobayashi: “Seeing our car’s potential after this race gives me much confidence that we are competitive enough to be in the top five for the upcoming events. Although qualifying truly affected our race result this weekend, I’m very positive that we can come back stronger in the next round. It was really a shame that we were so close to secure that points scoring position. But considering the disadvantage of starting from the back of the grid, I think we did a very good job. I’d like to thank everyone who came to Suzuka and showed their support for me and the rest of the team. It was a great event and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone again in Okayama!”