Super Formula: Juri Vips in last-minute bid to reach Japan

Super Formula: Juri Vips in last-minute bid to reach Japan

08/11/2020

Red Bull junior Juri Vips will make a last-ditch attempt to travel to Japan this week in time for the Super Formula season, despite the risk that he will be turned away at the border.

Vips is one of seven drivers that are likely to be forced to miss out when the delayed 2020 campaign kicks off at Motegi on August 29-30 due to travel restrictions imposed by Japan in the wake of the global coronavirus crisis.

However, the Estonian will make the trip to the East Asian country in the hopes of being granted an exemption to the rules that currently prevent foreign travellers from over 140 different countries from being allowed to enter.

“Juri will fly to Japan on Wednesday and arrive on Thursday morning,” Asmer told Motorsport.com. “I don’t know if he gets into the country or not, but we did everything we can.

“We have letters from the Estonian government to ask for an exemption. I want to say a big thanks to the Estonian government, everybody has been so helpful and I am thankful. They have done everything they can and it’s just up to Japan now.

“We haven’t given up, we are still trying to get him to Motegi. But I don’t think it will work.”

Vips made his Super Formula debut last year in the Suzuka season finale and was set for a full season with the Team Mugen squad that took Pierre Gasly to second in the standings.

In the event that Vips’ attempt to secure entry to Japan fails, it appears likely that Mugen SUPER GT driver Ukyo Sasahara would be called up to take his place.

Sasahara has no Super Formula experience but has an extensive junior single-seater racing CV that includes the title in last year’s Asian Formula 3 series.

Ukyo Sasahara(#16 Red Bull MOTUL MUGEN NSX-GT)

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Asked if he expected to race at Motegi, Sasahara told Motorsport.com: “I don’t know, to be honest, but I know it’s difficult for Juri to get into Japan with the travel restrictions.

“If I have a chance I would love to go for it, and I think I can show something. I’ve never driven the car, but having the test on the Friday will help for the race.”

Formula Regional superlicence situation not clear

At the end of June it was announced that Vips would take on an additional programme in the Formula Regional European Championship to serve as a back-up plan for the 20-year-old in case racing in Super Formula turned out to be impossible.

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