Suzuka Super Formula: Nojiri scores second straight win

Mugen driver Tomoki Nojiri became Super Formula’s first back-to-back race winner in three years at Suzuka after poleman Nirei Fukuzumi suffered a puncture while leading.

Fukuzumi had controlled the early stages of race after scoring his first career Super Formula pole on Saturday until his right-rear tyre let go on the run down to 130R on lap 9 of 30.

That promoted Nojiri into a lead he wouldn’t lose, barring a brief spell after making his mandatory pitstop on lap 13.

His closest rival thereafter was Ryo Hirakawa, who pitted in a lap later but filtered back on to the track behind the Nojiri and was powerless to seriously challenge the leader after that.

A safety car period followed as Yuji Kunimoto suffered a puncture and crashed heavily at 130R, but Nojiri controlled the restart and kept Impul driver Hirakawa at bay for the remaining laps to score his fifth career victory and give himself a perfect record of wins in 2021.

It marks the first time a driver has won consecutive Super Formula races since Naoki Yamamoto won the opening two rounds of the 2018 campaign.

Behind Hirakawa, Fukuzumi’s Dandelion teammate Ukyo Sasahara completed the podium in third place, followed by Yuhi Sekiguchi (Impul) and Hiroki Otsu in the second Mugen car.

TOM’S pair Ritomo Miyata and Giuliano Alesi cycled into the top two positions as the last drivers to complete their mandatory stop, both coming in immediately after Kunimoto’s crash and just after the safety car had been deployed.

Miyata finished sixth after gaining one position at the expense of Inging’s Sho Tsuboi, who was able to hold off an attack from Yamamoto (Nakajima Racing) in the closing laps.

Yamamoto only gained one place from his grid slot of 10th on the opening lap as his teammate Toshiki Oyu made a poor start from third and slipped to 14th.

The reigning champion hung on to eighth after defending from a charging Alesi, who was able to pass both Kenta Yamashita and a recovering Oyu following his stop on his way to ninth.

Oyu picked up the final point in 10th place as Kondo Racing’s Yamashita slipped behind the second Inging car of Sena Sakaguchi to 12th.

Nobuharu Matsushita was 13th on his return to Super Formula with the one-car B-Max Racing squad, while Tatiana Calderon (Drago Corse) had an uneventful race at the rear of the field, finally ending up 17th.

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Race results:

Cla # Driver Team Laps Gap
1 16 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 30  
2 20 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 30 1.453
3 6 Japan Ukyo Sasahara DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 30 4.187
4 19 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 30 9.916
5 15 Japan Hiroki Otsu Red Bull MUGEN Team Goh 30 10.523
6 37 Japan Ritomo Miyata Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 30 11.856
7 38 Japan Sho Tsuboi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 30 14.778
8 1 Japan Naoki Yamamoto TCS Nakajima Racing 30 14.781
9 36 France Giuliano Alesi Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 30 15.104
10 64 Japan Toshiki Oyu TCS Nakajima Racing 30 16.302
11 39 Japan Sena Sakaguchi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 30 19.108
12 3 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 30 21.443
13 51 Japan Nobuharu Matsushita B-Max Racing Team 30 22.184
14 4 Japan Yuichi Nakayama Kondo Racing 30 22.653
15 14 Japan Kazuya Oshima NTT Communications ROOKIE 30 24.380
16 7 Japan Kazuto Kotaka KCMG 30 25.916
17 12 Colombia Tatiana Calderon ThreeBond Drago CORSE 30 29.364
18 18 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 14 16 Laps
19 5 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing 9 21 Laps
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About this article

Series Super Formula
Event Suzuka
Drivers Tomoki Nojiri
Teams Mugen
Author Jamie Klein