To commemorate their return to the Land of the Rising Sun this year for the much-awaited Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit last September 24, Oracle Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez and Scuderia AlphaTauri drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Liam Lawson took part in a fun and laughter-filled competition outside of Formula 1 racing: the (Un)serious Race Series – The Super Ultimate Japanese Racing Challenge Show!
Just like what fans witnessed at the clean cart challenge back in Singapore, Max, Checo, Yuki, and Liam went head-to-head in teams of two across a series of challenges in a couple of very small trucks known as Kei trucks—tiny, flatbed utility vehicles that are normally seen delivering an often small batch of goods through the narrow streets of towns and villages all across Japan.
The first challenge saw Red Bull and AlphaTauri compete to reverse their truck through a series of obstacles before parking it into a tight parking spot. Hometown hero Yuki, who took the wheel for this round, took the first point for the team for being the quickest to complete the task.
The second task was much more difficult. Each team had to nominate one driver to be blindfolded while the other would help navigate them through obstacles, ideally without knocking any over, to get to the finish line. This time, it was Red Bull who took the win for reaching the goal the fastest and without knocking any of the obstacles over.
After that, each team was challenged to hit as many oversized bowling pins as they could with a giant bill which they would have to hit with their truck. Yuki and Liam went victorious for hitting 9 out of 10 pins, as opposed to Red Bull who hit only 8, and eventually brought down the remaining pin for their second go.
The last challenge was something that the drivers were much more familiar with: a race! The two teams raced against each other to complete the obstacle course and, after a long day of battles, it was Max and Checo who emerged victorious!
Celebrating the win, Checo said: “It’s been a funny day, it’s great being part of the Red Bull family as we get to do lots of crazy events around the world, I’d have never expected to be doing this challenge here in Tokyo. I just wish the kei trucks had more downforce [laughs].”
Fellow winner and current Formula 1 championship leader Max added: “First and foremost it’s important to mention that we finally won the challenge. The kei trucks have been fun to drive, I haven’t quite found the DRS yet though. It’s been good preparation for the race this weekend, I have a lot of special memories from Suzuka, my favorite memory is of course winning the championship here and also driving in my first-ever official practice session too. On a track like this, it wasn’t the easiest but is something I will remember forever.”
Even with the competitive advantage of having driven Kei-trucks in his late teens, Yuki remained relaxed at seeing his (Un)Serious dominance disrupted. “I drove kei-trucks a couple of times when I was 18. My grandfather had one for gardening. The truck was the perfect size, perfectly fitting and it was fun to drive, very controllable, and sharp. This series is always fun, but we are racing drivers, so we are always competitive. So, at the same time, we are always serious. It’s an unserious vehicle, but serious racing.”
Liam, taking part in his first (Un)Serious Series challenge, added: “The highlight was the race at the end, stacking some boxes, and on the way back Yuki made an aggressive turn that I wasn’t ready for and I fell onto him, and knocked it into neutral. So, the last 50m or so, was just in neutral, on the limiter across the line.”
Oracle Red Bull Racing has a longstanding tradition of embracing unique local challenges in every country they visit during the F1 season. These unconventional showdowns not only allow the drivers to let loose and have some fun before the intensity of the race weekend but also celebrate the distinct cultures and traditions of each location.
Similarly, last week in Singapore, the team engaged in a memorable challenge at the iconic Jewel Changi Airport, where Max and Checo raced cleaning carts against the backdrop of the world’s best airport.
Watch Round 3 of the (Un)Serious Race Series – Japan in full:
To watch the World’s Cleanest Race in Singapore in its entirety, click HERE.
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