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Race report

Super Formula Sugo: Miyata wins to snatch points lead from Lawson

TOM’S driver Ritomo Miyata scored his second victory of the 2023 Super Formula season at Sugo to snatch the championship lead from Red Bull junior Liam Lawson.

From second on the grid, Miyata passed polesitter and early leader Toshiki Oyu on lap 13 of 51 and then enjoyed a relatively straightforward run to the finish, claiming a dominant 22-second win.

With Mugen’s Lawson finishing only fifth due with a strategy that backfired, Miyata overturned what had been a two-point deficit in the standings to take a 12-point lead into the final four races of the season.

When the race started, Oyu made a clean start from pole for TGM Grand Prix to retain the lead into Turn 1 from Miyata, as both Mugen’s Tomoki Nojiri and Impul’s Ryo Hirakawa both got away poorly to promote Sho Tsuboi and Lawson into third and fourth positions.

Further back, Miyata’s team-mate Giuliano Alesi lost control all by himself into Turn 5, with an innocent Yuhi Sekiguchi making contact with the TOM'S driver and picking up a broken front wing.

With Sekiguchi limping back to the pits with his front wing stuck underneath his Impul machine, the safety car was immediately deployed, neutralising the battle at the front.

Racing resumed on lap five after both Sekiguchi and Alesi retired from the race, with Oyu doing enough to hold onto his advantage from Miyata.

But as the race wore on, it became clear that Oyu was struggling for performance, giving Miyata a sniff of victory.

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

On lap 12, Miyata got a brilliant run coming out of the final turn and, using the OTS, the TOM’S driver blasted past Oyu at the start/finish straight, taking the lead well before the braking point into Turn 1.

On the next lap it was Tsuboi who was challenging Oyu, the Inging driver trying to go around the outside of the TGM driver into Turn 1. But while Tsuboi was only just alongside, Oyu lost the rear and went into the gravel trap, dropping all the way down to eighth and elevating Tsuboi into second.

This would set up a two-way fight between Miyata and Tsuboi for the lead, with Miyata pitting on lap 17 and Tsuboi staying out on track for longer in the ostensible hope of a safety car.

But the safety car that Tsuboi had hoped for never materialised and Miyata managed to punch in some rapid laps on fresh tyres, halving Tsuboi’s virtual advantage to under 13s.

That meant that when Tsuboi finally pitted for the lead on lap 35, he dropped all the way down to eighth, while Miyata assumed the effective lead of the race.

From there on, Miyata was untroubled up front as he claimed a second win of 2023 in three races, strengthening his bid for the title.

Nojiri, carrying a new chassis this weekend, rebounded from a slow start to finish second, having pitted on lap 12 to regain the positions he had lost on the opening lap.

The final position on the podium went to Dandelion’s Tadasuke Makino, who was one of the first drivers to pit on lap 11, with his strategy call allowing him to score a first top-three result since Motegi in 2022.

Rookie Racing’s Kazuya Oshima was another driver to benefit from an early pitstop, bagging his best result of the season in fourth.

Lawson was the last frontrunner to pit on lap 42 and lost a number of positions to his rivals, rejoining in eighth, but he made good advantage of fresh tyres in the final stages of the races, passing the KCMG car of Kamui Kobayashi on the final lap to complete a strong recovery drive to fifth.

Tsuboi eventually came home in seventh, while the points runners were completed by Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing), Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG) and Sena Sakaguchi (Inging).

Oyu eventually retired from the race after his car was wheeled back into the garage on lap 32.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Team Laps Gap
1 37 Japan Ritomo Miyata Vantelin Team TOM'S 51  
2 1 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 51 22.272
3 5 Japan Tadasuke Makino Japan Dandelion Racing 51 26.961
4 14 Japan Kazuya Oshima docomo business ROOKIE 51 29.077
5 15 New Zealand Liam Lawson Team Mugen 51 29.223
6 7 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Team KCMG 51 29.949
7 38 Japan Sho Tsuboi JMS 51 36.506
8 3 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 51 38.864
9 18 Japan Yuji Kunimoto Team KCMG 51 39.995
10 39 Japan Sena Sakaguchi JMS 51 40.377
11 20 Japan Ryo Hirakawa ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL 51 40.418
12 65 Japan Ren Sato TCS Nakajima Racing 51 41.218
13 64 Japan Naoki Yamamoto TCS Nakajima Racing 51 54.394
14 4 Japan Kazuto Kotaka Kondo Racing 51 59.013
15 6 Japan Kakunoshin Ohta Japan Dandelion Racing 51 1'03.420
16 12 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi ThreeBond Racing 51 1'04.028
17 55 Turkey Cem Bolukbasi TGM Grand Prix 51 1'06.950
18 51 United Kingdom Raoul Hyman B-Max Racing Team 50 1 Lap
  50 Japan Nobuharu Matsushita B-Max Racing Team 33 18 Laps
  53 Japan Toshiki Oyu TGM Grand Prix 30 21 Laps
  36 France Giuliano Alesi Vantelin Team TOM'S 3 48 Laps

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