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Miyata 'frustrated' by Honda domination in Fuji qualifying

Super Formula points leader Ritomo Miyata has admitted to frustration at Honda’s apparent advantage in qualifying trim over Toyota at Fuji.

Ritomo Miyata, VANTELIN TEAM TOM'S

Miyata saw his points cushion over nearest rival Liam Lawson eroded as he struggled to the fifth-fastest time in the Q2 shootout on Saturday, albeit best of the Toyota runners.

Honda-powered cars locked out the first two rows as Tadasuke Makino scored pole ahead of Lawson, who is now only 10 points adrift of TOM’S driver Miyata in the standings thanks to his two bonus points for qualifying second.

The next-best Toyota runner was Kenta Yamashita for Kondo Racing in eighth, while only four cars out of 11 from the Toyota stable cleared Q1.

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Miyata feels Honda had made a big step in terms of engine performance since last month’s Sugo round, calling the difference in speed “really big”.

“It’s really frustrating,” Miyata told Motorsport.com. “Toyota only got four cars in Q2. My time wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad and it was still far from the top time. 

“For the last two seasons, Honda engines were winning almost every race and the championship. This season, Toyota engines won twice, but these were my wins. It hasn’t been easy. At Suzuka we had a 1-2-3, but the safety car helped there. 

“The last race in Sugo was very good, but I think Honda have been working hard to improve the engine since then. In the Fuji test and then in qualifying, they were really strong. Maybe this is the real world. It’s tough.”

 

On his goals for the race from fifth on the grid, he added: “Of course I want to win and finish ahead of Liam, but it will be difficult.

“Fuji is a track layout where you have to make a lot of compromises, and I have doubts about the race pace.”

Sasahara disappointed with Q1 dropout on comeback

Miyata’s TOM’S team-mate Ukyo Sasahara struggled to 16th on the grid on his return to Super Formula, having taken over Giuliano Alesi’s seat for the final four rounds of the season.

Sasahara was within half a second of the pace in the first Q1 group, but such was the closeness of the competition that this was only enough for eighth, albeit less than half a tenth away from the cut-off to progress to Q2.

“If I was in Group B it would have been a lot easier to go through,” reflected Sasahara. “I think my lap is quite ok. I didn’t expect to be knocked out of Q1.

“That said, we are lacking experience from the first half of the season. It’s my first race back, so we just need the experience. There’s no pressure to be at the front immediately.

 

“In the first half of the season, the #36 car didn’t have much experience in terms of how to change the car, and how each change impacts things. That made it difficult for us in Q1, and the conditions were not great either.

“Tomorrow I think it’s only realistic to try and score points, but for the rest of the season I will try to push for a podium.”

Motorsport.tv is showing all Super Formula qualifying sessions and races live in 2023. Click here for further information and to sign up today.

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