MIM driver David Vidales came away from the Autopolis circuit in the South island of Japan with two fourth places as best results in the three—event weekend which marked his official racing debut in the challenging Japanese Super Formula Lights series on May 19-21.
The 21-years old from Leon, Spain, had qualifying P6 and P5 for the first and second race respectively, while the starting order for the third and last competition was to be determined by the finishing order of Round 1. Vidales’ racing engineer, Uchima, had devised an innovative set-up which unfortunately did not perform as expected on the dry track (the driver having little experience on the track in such conditions). Therefore, the B-max Team reverted to a more conventional setting for the start of the first race on Saturday, which proved to be quite uneventful. At the start of the 21-lap (or forty minutes) event, Vidales was quick to avoid a car that had stalled on the grid and then went on to pass another driver at the first corner, thus gaining P4 and holding on in that position for the remainder of the race. The second round took place on Sunday morning and did not prove successful for Vidales who pulled away from his P5 slot on the grid but immediately after was seen to slow down, his #51 car being apparently affected by a clutch issue. Vidales had to let all drivers through and rejoined at the bottom of the field, but despite passing a car in the initial stages he quickly realized that points were not for grabs in the race and drove straight into his box on Lap 3 to save tires for the successive event.
Round 3 was started only a few after and Vidales was determined to make the best of his P4 starting position, but again he struggled with the clutch as the lights came out and was passed by two competitors. The MIM driver immediately gave chase and overtook both cars with a daring move, regaining fourth position. From there, Vidales started to close in on #36 car driven by local hero Yuga Furutani. Vidales had the speed to stay with the Tom’s driver and tried everything that was possible to come ahead of him, chasing down the main straight and attacking under braking at Turn 1. But Furutani did not put a fott wrong and in those conditions, overtaking in the SFL series is always quite difficult, especially on a flowing-designed track like Autopolis. So once again it was P4 for Vidales, who said if was “good to bring home some points” despite the difficulties of the weekend. From the B-max team’s point of view, Uchima said that the MIM-backed driver has the speed to be there with the leaders, and once he gains more experiences he will be in the fight for better places.