Yamamoto wins second Super Formula title in Suzuka finale

Naoki Yamamoto wrapped up his second Super Formula title in the Suzuka season finale, after holding onto victory ahead of pre-event points leader Nick Cassidy by just 0.654 seconds

Yamamoto wins second Super Formula title in Suzuka finale

Yamamoto - also known for being Jenson Button's team-mate in Super GT this year - started the season with back-to-back wins in the first race at Suzuka and then Autopolis.

But a poor run of races in the middle part of the year meant he slipped behind the more consistent Nick Cassidy and defending champion Hiroaki Ishiura.

The Mugen Honda driver rebounded by taking pole position at Suzuka, closing the gap to just four points to Cassidy who qualified fourth.

Yamamoto made a clean getaway and led the race comfortably in the first stint, pitting on lap 20 of 43 to get his mandatory stop out of the way.

Cassidy, meanwhile, waited another nine laps to come into the pits, having started the race on the medium tyres.

The alternative strategy allowed the New Zealander to jump up to second place and he came out just 7.5s behind Yamamoto.

Lap by lap, Cassidy ate into Yamamoto's advantage. He brought the gap down to under a second on the final tour.

But Yamamoto had saved his push-to-pass button for such a situation, allowing him to just hold on to victory - and with it win the championship by a single point.

It was his second title in Super Formula, his first success coming in 2013. He remains the only Honda driver to win a title in the Japanese single-seater series since Loic Duval won the 2009 crown with Nakajima Racing.

Behind Yamamoto and Cassidy, the latter's team-mate Kenta Yamashita finished a distant third to wrap-up the teams' title for Kondo Racing.

Inging's Yuji Kunimoto passed Le Mans 24 Hours winner Kazuki Nakajima in the final stages of the race to finish fourth, while Real Racing's Koudai Tsukakoshi scored his first points of the season in sixth.

Formula 2 convert Nobuharu Matsushita finished seventh for Dandelion Racing to end up as the highest-placed rookie in the standings, while Yuhi Sekiguchi - who had an outside shot at winning the drivers' title - completed the list of points scorers in eighth.

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