Former British F3 champion Ralph Firman clinched the Japanese Formula Nippon Championship title with a restrained drive in the season finale at Suzuka.
Driving for former Tyrrell and Lotus F1 driver Satoru Nakajima's team, the Briton headed into the race with a eight point cushion over Satoshi Motoyama, and needed only to finish fourth to be certain of the title.
Firman's third place behind race winner Motoyama and Takeshi Tsuchiya was more than enough to seal his first title since the 1996 British F3 crown, giving him the championship by a margin of two points.
Firman is in his sixth season in the F3000 equivalent series after moving to Japan to contest the championship in 1997. Since then he has taken a total of seven wins, and has also won races in the prestigious Japanese GT Championship.
Compatriot Richard Lyons, who retired from the final race, ended the season tenth overall.
1 Satoshi Motoyama (Team Xbox Impul)
2 Takeshi Tsuchiya (Team Le Mans), +9.570s
3 Ralph Firman (PIAA Nakajima), +23.377s
4 Juichi Wakisaka (Team Le Mans), +31.759s
5 Naoki Hattori (Team 5Zigen), +32.698s
6 Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima), +34.429s
1 Ralph Firman 62
2 Satoshi Motoyama, 60
3 Juichi Wakisaka, 33
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