Sunday, July 25, 2021

Some Japanese Open Wheel Drivers You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Thus, should we just consider them as One Hit Wonders?


Like many story ideas here at No Fenders, this one’s been simmerin’ a long, long time on Ye Isle ‘O Nofendersville. But I finally thought I’d take it off the Stove so to speak since after all we’re All supposed to be in a Tizzy over the Delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, who are doing their Bestest impersonation of Mother Speedway and Circuit de la Sarthe racing without any Fans last year…


Presumably there’s many more Japanese Open Wheel Racing Drivers currently competing around the Globe, but I no longer have the energy, or more suscintly the time to try ferreting All of them out, especially since Japan runs a Derth of Open Wheel Racing series, most notably Super Formula, where current IndyCar Points leader Alex Palou came from.


Thus I’ll just focus on this Trio of presumably Forgotten aspiring Open Wheel Racers, whom I’m Arse-suming it was one of Grizzled F1 Journo’ Joe Saward’s blog posts several years ago where I gleamed Thar names from.


As these three virtual Unknowns, who raced in the former World Series Formula V-8 3.5 series and FIA Formula 2 championship never quite made it to Formula 1.


And I’ll let Y’all ponder in this veritable exercise of Nation building, as the world watches the Tokyo Olympics with Baited Breath. Does it matter if Japan, and more specifically Honda has a future Japanese driver in IndyCar’s after Takuma Sato finally retires?


Thars’ the Gun, And there Off!


Yu Kanamaru

Series: World Series Formula V-8 3.5

Years: 2015-2017


As ‘Ol Sargent Schultz would say, “I Know Nothing” about Yu Kanamaru, whom somehow I discovered Wayback in the languishing days of the once prolific World Series by Renault 3.5 series, after it had lost it’s Renault Funding and has since ceased operations in 2017. As I’m guessing this was because I was very interested in Pietro Fittipaldi’s title challenge when the young Brazilian won the final Formula V-8 3.5 Championship that year.


Kanamaru graduated to Single Seaters in 2012 from Karting and took a surprise victory at Spa francorchamps in that year’s Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series before bouncing around in several other lower tier Open Wheel Feeder series.


Kanamaru then made his Formula Renault 3.5 series debut in 2015 with a finish of 18th Overall as a replacement driver for Meindert Van Buuren. As Yu continued in the World Series Formula V-8 3.5 Championship for the next two years with finishes of 8th and 7th Overall respectively.


Next, Yu moved onto the Japanese Formula 3 series, Touring Cars, the F3 Asian and Formula Regional Japanese Championship  Open Wheel Racing Feeder series the past few years.


Nirei Fukuzumi

Series: FIA Formula 2 Championship

Years: 2018


Like the majority of today’s aspiring Open Wheel Racers, Nirei began Go Kart racing in 2010 before graduating to Single Seaters in 2014, contesting various Japanese F4 Championships.


In 2015 Fukuzumi contested the Japanese Formula 3 series, where he won two races during his Rookie campaign en route to fourth in the championship.


For 2016 Nirei moved to the then GP3 Championship, joining ART Grand Prix where he collected three podiums  and  finished in 7th place during his Rookie season. Staying with ART Grand Prix another year, Fukuzumi claimed two Feature Race wins, finishing an impressive third overall behind team-mates George Russell and Jack Aitken, with Russell winning the title.  


For 2018 Fukuzumi moved up to Formula 2, driving for BWT Arden for one season, finishing a modest 17th overall, ironically scoring 17 points.


For the past three years, Nirei has split his time between racing “Saloons” for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri along with racing in the Super Formula series for Dandelion Racing.


And Yeah, that Tintops team is run by Aguri Suzuki, a former Formula 1 Driver. As Fukuzumi won the Japanese GT300 Series title in 2019 behind the wheel of an Acura NSX.  


Tadasuke Makino

Series: FIA Formula 2 championship

Years: 2018


Tadasuke is another “Mystery” driver to Mwah, and any in depth background on his racing career seems hard to find. Presumably he began Go Karting at an early age, with the 2015 Japanese F4 Series as his Single Seater Debut, where he claimed six Wins, four Poles and 11 Podiums en route to runner-up in the Championship.


For 2016 Tadasuke graduated to the Japanese Formula 3 series where he recorded one Pole position and four Podiums en route to finishing fifth overall. Next, Makino moved up to the FIA F3 European Championship in 2017 with modest results, recording just one Podium and finishing 15th overall.


Tadasuke then joined the reigning FIA Formula 2 Team Champions Russian Time Racing for 2018 and claimed his maiden F2 win at Monza’s Feature race, finishing P13 Overall before leaving the series.


Like Fukuzumi above, Makino has since focused upon splitting his time between Domestic Saloon racing and the Super Formula series. He’s the reigning Super GT Champion,

Albeit making his series debut in 2016 when he contested three events. Whilst Tadasuke has just won the latest (2021) Super GT round at Motegi with Co-Driver Naomi Yamamoto…