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Super Formula Sugo: Nojiri declared winner in rain-shortened contest

Horrendous wet conditions resulted in half points being awarded at Sugo as Tomoki Nojiri claimed victory

Tomoki Nojiri was declared the winner of a shortened Sugo Super Formula race that featured just two laps of green-flag running in treacherous conditions.

The start of the race was delayed following a crash in warm-up for Naoki Yamamoto at the final corner, with the Nakajima Racing driver falling foul of the standing water that had built up as a result of persistent rain since the start of the day.

After barrier repairs and an extended reconnaissance lap period to assess the conditions, the race began around an hour behind schedule.

With Yamamoto unable to start, poleman Nojiri led the depleted 20-car field under the safety car ahead of Team Mugen stablemate Ayumu Iwasa and TOM’S driver Sho Tsuboi.

Following five laps under caution, the field was released on the sixth lap of a scheduled 51, only for the safety car to be called again almost immediately following a crash for Rookie Racing’s Kazuya Oshima, again at the final corner.

A second attempt at restarting the race was made on lap 13, but again it was short-lived as Sena Sakaguchi suffered a crash at the same point of the track.

This time, the race was red-flagged with the leaders having completed 14 laps, and the damage to the barriers at the last corner meant the race was finally abandoned.

Ayumu Iwasa, TEAM MUGEN

Ayumu Iwasa, TEAM MUGEN

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Nojiri was therefore declared the winner, giving the two-time champion his 13th career win, ahead of Red Bull junior Iwasa and Tsuboi.

The positions of the top six didn’t change throughout, meaning Autopolis winner Tadasuke Makino (Dandelion Racing) was fourth, Toshiki Oyu (Inging) was fifth and Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) was sixth.

Kakunoshin Ota suffered an off in the second of the Dandelion cars at the final corner on the second restart, albeit avoiding a crash, dropping from seventh to 14th in the process.

That promoted Yuji Kunimoto (Impul) to seventh ahead of Kazuto Kotaka (Kondo), Iori Kimura (B-Max Racing) and Kamui Kobayashi (KCMG).

Kobayashi was one of the few drivers to gain places during the little green-flag running that took place, climbing as high as eighth at the time of the red flags before the results were rolled back to the end of lap 12.

Half-points were awarded as the race didn’t reach 75% distance, but 10 points for victory plus the three earned on Saturday for scoring pole put Nojiri in the lead of the championship, 6.5 points clear of Iwasa.

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