Team KCMG scored points on the opening weekend of the 2022 Super Formula season, with Kamui Kobayashi securing ninth place in the second race at Fuji Speedway.
Yuji Kunimoto and teammate Kobayashi had difficulties with car balance during the first race of the double-header weekend, finishing 13th and 18th respectively, but both worked hard with the team to address the issues, giving them improved pace on Sunday.
Kobayashi showed instant speed during Sunday morning’s qualifying session, taking sixth on the grid for the race. Running as high as fourth in the early stages, Kobayashi battled with other drivers throughout the 41-lap contest, and came home ninth to take two points for KCMG.
2016 Super Formula champion Kunimoto also felt more comfortable following the set-up changes on Sunday, but wasn’t able to break into the top-10, finishing 15th.
The 2022 Super Formula season continues with Round 3 at the Suzuka Circuit on 22-23 April.
Kamui Kobayashi: “It was good to come away from the weekend with points, we had a difficult day on Saturday but the team worked hard and deserved a top-10 finish in the second race. The car felt much better during qualifying on Sunday, and we managed to take sixth for the second race. I moved up to fourth in the opening laps, so it was good to see the team improving over the weekend. Unfortunately, we lost some positions during the pit stop phase, but I still had some great battles with the drivers around me. We’ll look to improve our straight-line speed ahead of the next round at Suzuka and I’m confident we can build on this performance and battle closer to the front very soon.”
Yuji Kunimoto: “I was hampered by a change in wind direction during Saturday’s qualifying session and I couldn’t get the best out of the car. In the race, we had a great strategy and managed to make up positions in the pit stop phase. We made some tweaks to the set-up for Sunday, and even though we didn’t manage to score points, the car felt much better and we know we’re heading in the right direction. We still have some improvements to find, but it’s a long championship and we collected a lot of very valuable data at Fuji. We can now focus on using what we’ve learned to ensure we come back stronger at Suzuka.”
Tsugio Matsuda, team manager: “We’re happy with the changes we made on Sunday and to have Kamui score our first points of the season. Saturday was a tough day but the crew worked hard to improve the balance on both cars overnight, and on Sunday the drivers were much happier with the changes. Kamui drove a very strong race, he looked after his tyres and earned his points. Yuji definitely has the speed to challenge, so we’ll be working hard ahead of Suzuka to make sure we’re closer to the front of the field.”