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.
|1||16||Tomoki Nojiri||Team Mugen||30|
|2||20||Ryo Hirakawa||Team Impul||30||1.453|
|3||6||Ukyo Sasahara||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||30||4.187|
|4||19||Yuhi Sekiguchi||Team Impul||30||9.916|
|5||15||Hiroki Otsu||Red Bull MUGEN Team Goh||30||10.523|
|6||37||Ritomo Miyata||Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S||30||11.856|
|8||1||Naoki Yamamoto||TCS Nakajima Racing||30||14.781|
|9||36||Giuliano Alesi||Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S||30||15.104|
|10||64||Toshiki Oyu||TCS Nakajima Racing||30||16.302|
|12||3||Kenta Yamashita||Kondo Racing||30||21.443|
|13||51||Nobuharu Matsushita||B-Max Racing Team||30||22.184|
|14||4||Yuichi Nakayama||Kondo Racing||30||22.653|
|15||14||Kazuya Oshima||NTT Communications ROOKIE||30||24.380|
|17||12||Tatiana Calderon||ThreeBond Drago CORSE||30||29.364|
|18||18||Yuji Kunimoto||KCMG||14||16 Laps|
|19||5||Nirei Fukuzumi||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||9||21 Laps|
|View full results|
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