Vips missed the opening two rounds of the season at Motegi and Okayama due to Japan’s strict COVID-19 travel restrictions, and Team Mugen has now confirmed that the Estonian driver will not be taking up his seat this weekend either.
Mugen SUPER GT regular Ukyo Sasahara will continue to fill in for Vips at Sugo.
Sasahara finished just outside of the points in 11th in the Motegi curtain-raiser and recovered to 13th at Okayama after being forced to start from the pits due to an actuator problem.
Ukyo Sasahara, Team Mugen
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Vips’ spell as a substitute for the injured Sean Gelael at the DAMS Formula 2 team has come to an end, with Gelael due to return for next month’s final two rounds at Bahrain. His best result with the French team was third place in the reverse-grid Mugello sprint race.
Earlier this month, Vips returned to action in the Formula Regional European Championship, which was added to his 2020 schedule as a secondary programme when it it became unclear whether he could take up his seat in Japan as hoped for.
His participation in the most recent round of that series at Mugello effectively ruled him out of racing at Sugo despite Japan’s loosening entry rules, as it prevented him from fulfilling the country’s 14-day quarantine requirement for all foreign arrivals.
Joining Vips on the sidelines for the Sugo round is Tatiana Calderon, who was in European Le Mans Series action last weekend at Monza, but Sergio Sette Camara has indicated he is set to race in Super Formula for the first time this season this weekend.
Super License rule tweak set to benefit Vips
Vips’ chances of securing a Super License he would need to be considered for a Formula 1 seat have been boosted by a recent change to the criteria announced by the FIA.
Drivers now have four years to accumulate the required total of 40 points instead of three, albeit with only their best three seasons counting, and drivers whose ability to acquire points have been disrupted due to COVID-19 can also still apply for a Super Licence.
Vips would need to hit a minimum of 30 points to meet the revised criteria, which would mean a fourth-place finish in either Super Formula or Formula Regional Europe this year.
While the chances of being able to finish in the top four in Super Formula are receding fast, Vips sits in sixth in the Formula Regional standings, despite missing a round due to clashing F2 commitments, 40 points down on fourth-placed driver Pierre-Louis Chovet.
Four rounds remain on this year’s Formula Regional schedule, starting this weekend at Monza. All rounds are shown live on Motorsport.tv for free.
Juri Vips, Kic Motorsport
Photo by: acisportitalia.it