Asian Motorsport reviews the action at Sugo as two-time Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri achieved his second win of the season.

By Marco Albertini

After an exciting qualifying session on Saturday, the drivers returned to the track on Sunday to further sharpen their skills before the race.

However, the conditions drastically changed leading up to the second practice session. Fog and heavy rain hit the circuit, creating problems for the drivers. Ayumu Iwasa lost the car on the main straight and crashed into the pit wall, causing the session to be ended after just a handful of laps due to the worsening conditions.

Following both Super Formula Lights races, a warm-up session was held before the race. However, the conditions remained the same as FP2, and saw Naoki Yamamoto crash at the last corner, damaging the barrier and putting him out of the race before it even began due to the excessive damage to his car.

As the rain slowed down, the fog was still causing visibility problems, causing the organisers to delay the race for a hour, hoping that the conditions would eventually improve.

After the delay, the first reconnaissance laps took place to evaluate the conditions before racing could take place. During one of these laps, Motegi race-winner Tadasuke Makino had a brief trip on the gravel at the Horseback corner but would manage to get back on track without assistance from the marshals.

Despite Makino’s excursion, the race would start a few minutes later under the Safety Car, which would come in at the end of the fifth lap. However, as the safety car came in, Kazuya Oshima spun on the last corner and at the same spot as Yamamoto in the warmup, nearly collecting the Impul of Yuji Kunimoto in the process.

Just before the Safety Car was called once again, Kamui Kobayashi overtook two cars on the inside of the first corner in bold fashion to put himself in the points positions.

The Safety Car came in at the end of Lap 12, but again saw another driver have a costly mistake at the final corner, this time being the Docomo Dandelion of Kakunoshin Ohta who went wide. He would however rejoin the track quickly, only losing a few places as a result.

Elsewhere, Kobayashi continued his impressive form by overtaking Iori Kimura for ninth and Yuji Kunimoto for eighth in just a few lap whilst up at the front, Ayumu Iwasa was being attacked by the TOM’S of Sho Tsuboi. Tsuboi seemed to have more pace than the Team Mugen rookie, but Iwasa managed to hold off Tsuboi’s attacks as the race was settling down.

Kobayashi had finished using his overtake button and was attacking the Kondo Racing of Kazuto Kotaka for seventh when Sena Sakaguchi crashed at the final corner, bringing out the red flag and stopping the KCMG driver’s impressive race.

After a long wait, the race was declared official, with Tomoki Nojiri winning ahead of Ayumu Iwasa and Sho Tsuboi.

Due to the race not reaching 75% distance, half points were given and the results were taken from a few laps before the red flag, sending Kobayashi to the final points position in tenth and Sakaguchi being classified P12, the place that he was in before crashing out of the race.

Sugo’s top 10 finishers

  1. Tomoki Nojiri (Team Mugen)
  2. Ayumu Iwasa (Team Mugen) +0.674
  3. Sho Tsuboi (TOM’S) +1.550
  4. Tadasuke Makino (Docomo Team Dandelion Racing) +2.719
  5. Toshiki Oyu (Vertex Partners Cerumo/INGING) +3.056
  6. Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) +3.638
  7. Yuji Kunimoto (Itochu Enex Team Impul) +5.150
  8. Kazuto Kotaka (Kondo Racing) +5.247
  9. Iori Kimura (San-Ei Gen with B-Max) +5.789
  10. Kamui Kobayashi (Kids.com KCMG) +5.917

Full results are available here.

Super Formula drivers’ championship

  1. Tomoki Nojiri (Team Mugen) – 36
  2. Ayumu Iwasa (Team Mugen) – 29.5
  3. Tadasuke Makino (Docomo Team Dandelion Racing) – 27
  4. Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) – 21.5
  5. Naoki Yamamoto (PONOS Nakajima Racing) – 20
  6. Sho Tsuboi (TOM’S) – 17.5
  7. Kakunoshin Ohta (Docomo Team Dandelion Racing) – 16
  8. Sena Sakaguchi (Vertex Partners Cerumo/INGING) – 12
  9. Nirei Fukuzumi (Kids.com KCMG) – 8
  10. Ren Sato (PONOS Nakajima Racing) – 6
  11. Toshiki Oyu (Cerumo/INGING) – 3
  12. Nobuharu Matsushita (TGM) – 3
  13. Yuji Kunimoto (Impul) – 2
  14. Kazuto Kotaka (Kondo) – 1.5
  15. Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG) – 1.5
  16. Iori Kimura (B-Max) – 1
  17. Kazuya Oshima (ROOKIE) – 0
  18. Ukyo Sasahara (TOM’S) – 0
  19. Ben Barnicoat (Impul) – 0
  20. Atsushi Miyake (Threebond) – 0
  21. Juju Noda (TGM) – 0
  22. Hibiki Taira (Impul) – 0
  23. Theo Pourchaire (Impul) – 0

Super Formula teams’ championship

  1. Team Mugen – 56.5
  2. Docomo Team Dandelion Racing – 39
  3. PONOS Nakajima Racing– 25
  4. Kondo Racing – 23
  5. Vantelin Team TOM’S – 16.5
  6. Vertex Partners Cerumo INGING – 12
  7. Kids.com Team KCMG – 9.5
  8. TGM Grand Prix – 3
  9. Itochu Enex Team Impul – 2
  10. San-Ei Gen with B-Max – 1
  11. docomo business ROOKIE – 0
  12. Threebond Racing – 0

Header image credit: Yokohama Rubber

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