Race report

Super Formula Fuji: Nojiri denies Hirakawa double win

Reigning Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri opened his victory account for the 2022 season with a lights-to-flag win in Sunday's second race at Fuji Speedway.

Tomoki Nojiri, TEAM MUGEN

Mugen driver Nojiri came out top in a tense late duel with Saturday race winner Ryo Hirakawa (Impul) to take the chequered flag by a margin of 1.6 seconds for his seventh career win, giving himself the championship lead.

Ritomo Miyata completed the podium for TOM'S in third place, less than a second behind Hirakawa.

While Nojiri made a clean getaway from pole to maintain the lead early on, ahead of fellow front-row starter Miyata, his Mugen team-mate Ukyo Sasahara was left stranded on the grid for the second time in two days. 

An early safety car period was called when Nobuharu Matsushita pitched Tadasuke Makino into a spin at Turn 10 on the opening lap, an incident that put Dandelion driver Makino out of the race.

Nojiri maintained the advantage over Miyata when the race resumed on lap 5 of 41, with Kenta Yamashita running third ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, Fenestraz and Hirakawa.

Fenestraz dropped to the rear of the pack with a spin, briefly promoting Hirakawa to fifth before he lost a spot to star Team Goh rookie Atsushi Miyake.

Kobayashi was first of the frontrunners to pit when the window opened on lap 10, with Hirakawa settling into fourth place after he had succeeded in repassing and dropping Miyake.

Yamashita was next in the pits of the lead group on lap 19, followed by Miyake on lap 20, giving Hirakawa some crucial time in clear air before he made his stop on lap 22.

That allowed the Impul driver to undercut Miyata, who brought his TOM'S car in the pits on lap 24, with Nojiri following suit one lap later.

Reigning champion Nojiri followed up his pole position with a victory

Reigning champion Nojiri followed up his pole position with a victory

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

However, there was nothing Hirakawa could do about Nojiri in the closing stages, with the gap between the lead pair remaining mostly static at around 1.5s, and Miyata staying close to Hirakawa but never enough so to attempt an overtake - with the top three finishing in that order.

Yamashita brought home his Kondo Racing car in fourth ahead of Miyake, while Yuhi Sekiguchi made a late-stopping strategy to work to finish sixth in the second Impul machine, up 10 places from his grid position.

Hiroki Otsu (Dandelion) and Giuliano Alesi (TOM'S) were seventh and eighth, having both been among the early stoppers, while Kobayashi (KCMG) spent the latter half of the race engaged in a pulsating duel with a recovering Sasahara, finally hanging on for ninth ahead of the Mugen driver.

Super Formula Fuji Race Results - 41 laps

Cla Driver Team Time Gap
1 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen 1:01'10.882  
2 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 1:01'12.541 1.659
3 Japan Ritomo Miyata Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1:01'13.376 2.494
4 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 1:01'25.924 15.042
5 Atsushi Miyake Team Goh 1:01'26.721 15.839
6 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 1:01'29.088 18.206
7 Japan Hiroki Otsu Japan Dandelion Racing 1:01'41.969 31.087
8 France Giuliano Alesi Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 1:01'45.930 35.048
9 Japan Kamui Kobayashi KCMG 1:01'46.822 35.940
10 Japan Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen 1:01'47.220 36.338
11 Japan Toshiki Oyu TCS Nakajima Racing 1:01'48.796 37.914
12 Japan Sho Tsuboi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 1:01'50.584 39.702
13 Ren Sato Team Goh 1:01'51.540 40.658
14 Japan Naoki Yamamoto TCS Nakajima Racing 1:01'52.400 41.518
15 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 1:01'54.224 43.342
16 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi ThreeBond Drago CORSE 1:02'02.353 51.471
17 Japan Sena Sakaguchi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 1:02'03.525 52.643
18 Japan Kazuya Oshima docomo business ROOKIE 1:02'08.978 58.096
19 Japan Nobuharu Matsushita B-Max Racing Team 1:02'29.968 1'19.086
20 France Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing 1:01'49.377 1 Lap
21 Japan Tadasuke Makino Japan Dandelion Racing    

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