On This Day: 5 April

There may not be much racing action on this day in 2020 but there has been on past Sunday 5 April’s.

1998 500cc Japanese Grand Prix

The opening 500cc round had class debutante Max Biaggi starting from pole position.

He would drop down to third in the opening couple of laps as home riders Norick Abe and Noriyuki Haga led initially.

However Biaggi would soon retake the lead and build up a large gap leaving Haga and Abe to fight over second before they were then joined by Tadayuki Okada.

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It was a difficult race for the reigning 500cc champion, Mick Doohan who had started fourth but soon found himself further down in the field after going off at Turn 1 before eventually being forced into retirement.

It also wasn’t a great race for returnee John Kocinski who picked up two 10 second stop and go penalties on his way to thirteenth having initially started ninth.

The main action during the race was between the three Japanese riders of Haga, Abe and Okada who were fighting over the final podium places. It was especially impressive from Haga who was a wildcard as his main focus was the Superbike World Championship.

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The battle for second dissipated after Okada had a moment coming out of the Spoon Curve, colliding with Abe.

Abe would not be able to recover and would fall down to fifth before falling even further down the order when battling with Alex Criville going into the first Degner.

Haga and Okada continued their battle over second which culminated in Okada performing a last lap overtake into the final chicane before the start/finish straight to steal second from Haga.

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Biaggi cruised to victory ahead of them, claiming a maiden 500cc victory on his debut in the class.

There was success for Japanese riders in other classes as well where both in 125cc and in 250cc all three podium places were filled by Japanese riders with Kazuto Sakata winning in the 125cc while Daijiro Kato claimed victory in the 250cc.

Meanwhile in 2009…

Sunday 5 April 2009 was a busy day of motor racing which included the following:

2009 Formula Nippon at Fuji Speedway

It would be the season opener for the 2009 season of Formula Nippon. Kohei Hirate took pole position but would end up finishing third in the race.

2007 and 2008 Formula Nippon champion, Tsugio Matsuda (pictured below in 2016) would ultimately retire.

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There were four European drivers competing in the series, those being Benoit Treluyer, Loic Duval, Andre Lotterer and Richard Lyons.

Treluyer (pictured below) would go on and win at Fuji while Duval finished fourth, Lotterer finished tenth but did claim the fastest lap while Lyons retired.

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Joining Treluyer and Hirate on the podium was Takuya Izawa.

The other points scorers were Yuji Tachikawa who was fifth, ahead of Koudai Tsukakoshi, Kazuya Oshima and Takashi Kogure.

2009 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

It was the second round of the 2009 Formula 1 season.

In the previous round, Brawn GP secured a 1-2 finish in Australia after undergoing a management rescue after previous owners, Honda, had pulled out of the sport in late 2008.

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It meant that Jenson Button led teammate Rubens Barrichello in the very early stages of the championship with Jarno Trulli (Toyota) third.

As in Australia, Button started from pole position. He would however not be leading after the first couple of corners after a brilliant start by Nico Rosberg in the Williams.

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The race started in dry conditions however the threat of rain was looming large which led to Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) being brought into the pits to change to full wet tyres, in the hope that the rain would arrive quickly and be a downpour.

It would however remain dry for a little while longer with Button managing to take the lead from Rosberg just before conditions on track began to change as the rain finally arrived.

Many switched to full wets however Timo Glock (Toyota) had changed initially to intermediates, which was an inspired choice and allowed him to work his way up through the field.

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Eventually the track required full wets and with heavy rain continuing to fall it became difficult for drivers to stay on the track with Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) both spinning out of the race.

On lap 33 the race was red flagged with the classified results reverting back to the completion of the 31st lap.

It still meant Button had won, but it would mean that Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) finished ahead of Glock, despite Glock having been ahead of Heidfeld when the red flag was first shown.

As less than the required 75% race distance had been completed it meant that half points were awarded.

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Trulli followed up his podium finish in Australia with fourth in Malaysia. Barrichello managed to finish fifth after starting eighth after a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Mark Webber (Red Bull) finished sixth followed by Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) who had started down in twelfth, while the final points finish went to Rosberg for eighth.

It meant in the drivers’ championship that Button left Malaysia five points ahead of teammate Barrichello in second while Trulli was still third, half a point ahead of teammate Glock in fourth while Nick Heidfeld was fifth.

2009 IndyCar Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

The season opener saw Graham Rahal get spun out of the lead on the first lap, dropping him to the back of the field. However Rahal would eventually recover to finish seventh.

The first lap incidents meant that Briton’s Justin Wilson led the race, in which he would go on to lead 52 laps of.

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Raphael Matos collided into Danica Patrick with an opportunistic overtake. There was also drama in the pits when Will Power overshot his pit box which impacted on reigning champion Scott Dixon’s race who was unable to enter his pit box until Power was wheeled back into his own.

It wouldn’t ultimately matter much for Dixon who eventually crashed out of the race after colliding with Hideki Mutoh.

The race would be won by Ryan Briscoe followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay and then Wilson. Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan completed the top five.

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Will Power eventually finished sixth while the other finishers inside the top ten were Briton’s Darren Manning, Brazil’s Vitor Meira and Canada’s Alex Tagliani.

Robert Doornbos was the highest classified rookie finishing eleventh, one place ahead of fellow rookie Stanton Barrett.

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