Good Smile Company is always cheering on Ukyo Sasahara. He announced that he would taking on the Formula Renault last year, and he’s already attained his personal best finish of 2nd place! We’ve just received a full report, so read more below! Our cars are a force to be reckoned with, aren’t they!
At the opening race of the Formulu Renault 2.0 NEC (NEC FR 2.0) 2014 Series, held on April 11 – 13 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the same track where the Italian F1 GP is held, during his first time ever driving in a formula car race, Ukyo Sasahara (17) of the Euro Nova Team has made it to the victory stand, attaining 2nd place.
Also participating in this event were many drivers from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series (Eurocup FR 2.0), high ranking even withing the FR 2.0, with a total of 32 cars competing. On (Fri) April 11, during the qualifying Practice Runs, (2 x 45 min runs), he came in 3rd and 8th respectively, but as many competitors outfitted new tires to improve their times, Sasahara was unable to match them with his used tires, even if they were in good condition.
On the same day during the first round of qualifying (20 min), and outfitted with the new tires that he had on standby, Sasahara clocked in at 1’50″335, which many believed would earn him the pole position. However, in the final minute he was unfortunately surpassed, putting him in a bitter but still impressive Role 2. During the 5 min interval before round two (20 min), and once again outfitted with new tires, Sasahara outdid his first time, clocking in at 1’49″783, and continued attempting to shave off even more but unfortunately found himself stuck in track congestion, finishing in 4th.
During the first round of finals (25 min + 1 lap), held on (Sat) April 12, and starting in Role 2 on the grid, Sasahara fell to 3rd in the first corner right from the get-go. However, at the end of an intense battle he took back 2nd, and immediately started gaining speed on the car in 1st. In what soon became a one-on-one race, Sasahara saw first place slip away from him with only a slim 0.822 second margin, but still finishing this mere first race of the season with an incredible 2nd place victory.
During round two of the finals, held on (Sat) April 13, and starting in role 4 on the grid, Sasahara dropped to 5th in the first corner. However, Sasahara immediately took to the offensive, driving parallel to the car by the end of the first corner and completing his overtake going into the second corner, taking back 4th. But immediately following, the driver he just passes collided with the rear of his car, sending him into a spin. With his car sustaining heavy damage, Sasahara was unable to return to the race and retired.
The Second Race in the NEC FR 2.0 Series will be held on May 23 – 25 at the Silverstone Circuit, the same track where the English F1 GP race is held.
■ Statement from Ukyo Sasahara
I was equipped with used tires during the first round of the practice run, completing braking and other machine checks. I may have came in 3rd time-wise, but there wasn’t much gap between me and the top 2 cars, so I didn’t think that was much of an issue. During the second round of practice, I was still equipped with the same used tires, adjusting the car as to eliminate understeering and improve grip in the qualifying. Though I came in 8th, most competitors had already jumped to their new tires, so I didn’t feel any uncertainty going into qualifying.
I was able to avoid the pile up in Q1, and though I didn’t have the best timing, it did seem as though my strategy was effective and I’d be able to attain the pole position. However, in the very end it was unfortunate that all that changed. There seemed to be some instability in the rear of the car every time I braked, so I tried to get that adjusted during the 5 min interval between rounds. The car was in even better condition for Q2, but as I again had bad timing and got caught up in the congestion, I was unable to made good time, and personally don’t think I was able to perform at 100%.
During round 1 of the finals, I stood on the victory stand for the very first time since switching to formula car racing. On the one hand was my elation, but I was also frustrated knowing that with just a little more effort first place would be within my grasp. The second race of the finals ended without me making even a single lap. I was without doubt completely in front of the other car in the straight end, but he unfortunately collided with the left rear of my car in the middle of the corner. The shock from the impact wasn’t that bad, and I even tried returning to the track mid-spin. However, the rear left suspension was severely damaged, and it there was unfortunately no choice left but to retire.
There were a lot of Eurocup drivers participating in this race, but even amidst that fierce competition, I was able to achieve top class lap times. And even though I had to retire from round 2 of the finals, I made it all the way to the victory stand in round 1. If I were to start competing in the more competitive higher-ranking Eurocup this season, I have full confidence that I’d be able to perform well. And related to that, this is the exact reason I feel resolved to walk away as champion of the NEC. I hope for both yous sponsorship as well as your support this season!