Super Formula Fuji: Palou dominates wet race, Red Bull's O'Ward 14th

Nakajima Honda driver Alex Palou mastered treacherous weather at Fuji to claim his maiden Super Formula win on Sunday

Super Formula Fuji: Palou dominates wet race, Red Bull's O'Ward 14th

Palou qualified on pole position and pulled away from the field when the safety car - under which the race started - came in at the end of the third lap.

The Spanish driver built a gap of 3.5 seconds in first three laps of green-flag running, before extending that advantage to 10s by lap 16.

A few errors, including a moment at Turn 1, brought his lead back down, but Palou never appeared in danger of losing his lead.

He eventually won by 13.359s in a time-limited race, with reigning Japanese F3 champion Sho Tsuboi (Inging) finishing second to secure his first podium in the series.

The result marked Nakajima Racing's first victory in Super Formula since 2010, and victory was all the first for Honda at Toyota's home circuit since 2009.

Last year's series runner-up Nick Cassidy (TOM'S) picked up the final podium in third, having passed Mugen's Tomoki Nojiri shortly after the early safety-car period ended.

Cassidy rapidly closed in on Tsuboi in the dying minutes of and attempted two separate moves on lap 50, but Tsuboi resisted his advances to hold on to second.

Mugen's Tomoki Nojiri headed the second TOM'S car of Kazuki Nakajima, who recovered from a late error to take fifth.

KCMG's Kamui Kobayashi was the biggest mover of the day, charging his way from the final row of the grid to finish sixth at the flag.

Kobayashi rapidly progressed through the field in the first 10 laps but lost a chunk of time behind Dandelion's Nirei Fukuzumi, whom he could not pass until lap 34 of what turned out to be a 53-lap race.

Inging's Hiroaki Ishiura was classified seventh on another lacklustre day for the two-time champion, with Yuhi Sekiguchi completed the list of points scorers after pitting in the final 15 minutes of the race for a late splash-and-dash.

Championship leader Naoki Yamamoto (Dandelion) endured his worst finish since the 2017 season by coming home 11th, after suffering a spin.

He had been running ninth and outside the points prior to that.

Red Bull junior Patricio O'Ward was unable to make much headways early in the race, but an improved showing in the second half meant he took 14th at the flag.

Another Red Bull-supported driver, Lucas Auer - who secured his maiden podium at the previous round in Sugo - was the only retiree from the race, as he pulled into the pits on lap 40.

Formula 2 convert Artem Markelov's troubles in Super Formula continued for a fourth race in a row, the Russian finishing three laps down after losing his front wing in an incident.

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