Nojiri feels ‘jinxed’ as losing streak from pole continues
Super Formula points leader Tomoki Nojiri admits he feels ‘jinxed’ after losing out on the win for a third race in succession at Sugo from pole position.
Nojiri made it four poles in a row on Saturday as he beat Sacha Fenestraz to the top spot in qualifying, but come the start of the race it was Fenestraz who got the better getaway to move into an early lead.
Far from being able to challenge Fenestraz, Nojiri lost a further position when the majority of the field pitted together on lap 10 under the safety car as Toshiki Oyu moved up to second with a quicker stop.
That left Nojiri reflecting on his third successive defeat from pole, after losing out to Nobuharu Matsushita at Suzuka in April and then to nearest title rival Ryo Hirakawa last month at Autopolis.
“It’s like, not again…” said Nojiri. “I think third isn’t a bad result considering the championship, but I’m really disappointed not to win.
“At least it’s nice to be leading at the halfway point of the season. The next race comes after a one-month break, so I’ll take a rest and refresh myself so I can fight properly next time out at Fuji.
“Lately I’ve always started on pole and not been able to win, but I’ll keep trying. When I break this jinx, I think I’ll show the fans something important as an athlete.”
Asked about losing the lead to Fenestraz at the start, Nojiri took the blame for his slow getaway from pole.
“I think was a bit too soft with the clutch bite point,” he explained. “I didn’t engage the clutch properly and I ended up with the clutch only half-depressed.”
Hirakawa: We just need to fix qualifying
Despite only finishing third, Nojiri nonetheless came away from Sugo with an extended lead of 17 points over Hirakawa, who salvaged seventh place from a lowly 16th on the grid.
Le Mans 24 Hours winner Hirakawa was among those to stay out on track under the safety car that divided the field, moving up to third in the process, but rejoined out of the points when he pitted on lap 39.
From there he made use of his fresh rubber to battle ahead of several cars, scoring four valuable points in the process.
“Thinking of the qualifying result, my goal was to score points, and I was able to make up more positions than I expected,” said Hirakawa.
“I think we were able to make use of our race pace, which was strong like usual. But qualifying was not good enough, so we just need to improve on that. The problem is clear, so we just need to prepare with that in mind for Fuji.”
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Ryo Hirakawa, carenex TEAM IMPUL
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
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