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Race report
Super Formula Suzuka II

Super Formula Suzuka: Miyata beats Lawson to title, Ota wins finale

Toyota driver Ritomo Miyata clinched his maiden Super Formula title after finishing third behind championship rival Liam Lawson in the Suzuka finale, as Kakunoshin Ota won the race.

Miyata came into Sunday’s title-deciding round 5.5 points clear of Tomoki Nojiri and 12 clear of Red Bull junior Lawson after a fiercely competitive season that had seen the trio win all eight races up to that point between them.

With polesitter Lawson dropping a place to Ota at the start, Miyata only needed to finish inside the top six to put himself in a position to become Toyota’s first Super Formula champion since Nick Cassidy in 2019.

Having qualified fourth, Miyata made a crucial pass on Nojiri at Turn 2 after the two-time champion lost time behind team-mate Lawson at the start.

This put the TOM’S driver right behind Lawson and although he couldn’t pass him on track, third was more than enough for him to secure the title in his third full-season in Japan’s premier racing category.

Story of the race

When the 31-lap got underway, Lawson didn’t get the best of starts from pole position, with Dandelion’s Ota streaking past him to take the lead.

Nojiri also tried to find a way around his younger team-mate but backed out of the move, allowing Miyata to get around his outside of Turn 2 and demote him to fourth.

Ota immediately built an advantage of over a second over Lawson, who likewise put himself well clear of Miyata as the field began to settle down.

Kakunoshin Ohta, DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Kakunoshin Ohta, DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING

The gaps remained fairly stable until Miyata became the first frontrunner to pit on lap 12, with Lawson following in the next lap to cover him off.

On tyres that were already up to temperature, Miyata piled up the pressure on Lawson as the two drivers went side-by-side into the hairpin, but the Mugen driver just managed to hang on to a net second position.

Ota pitted at the end of the following lap and exited the pits well in front of the two title protagonists, ensuring the status quo remained well into the start of the second stint.

At one point, Ota managed to pull out a gap of over two seconds over the chasing pack, but Lawson rapidly closed back on him in the final part of the race in a bid to cap off the season with what would have been a fourth win.

But rookie Ota had the measure of the Kiwi and eventually crossed the line 1.5s clear to become a first-time Super Formula race winner, a day after he scored his maiden podium in Saturday's opening race.

Lawson had to concede defeat in both race and the title fight, as Miyata took the flag three seconds behind him to become the 2023 Super Formula champion.

Nojiri was fourth at the finish after he went long in the first stint in the hope of a safety car, pitting at the end of lap 24.

This initially dropped him behind Nobuharu Matsushita, but he managed to repass the B-Max driver, albeit 19s down on race winner Ota.

It marked the end of his pursuit of becoming the first driver to win three consecutive titles in Japan's premier single-seater series since Satoru Nakajima in 1984-86.

Matsushita eventually finished seventh after being passed by both Inging's Sho Tsuboi and the lead Impul car of Ryo Hirakawa.

Yuji Kunimoto (KCMG), Kenta Yamashita (Kondo) and Tadasuke Makino (Dandelion) completed the list of points scorers in eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Suzuka Super Formula - Race results:

 
 
     
Driver Info
 
 
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Japan K. Ohta Dandelion Racing 6 31

53'19.831

   
2 New Zealand L. Lawson Team Mugen 15 31

+1.539

53'21.370

1.539  
3 Japan R. Miyata Vantelin Team TOM'S 37 31

+5.623

53'25.454

4.084  
4 Japan T. Nojiri Team Mugen 1 31

+19.613

53'39.444

13.990  
5 Japan S. Tsuboi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 38 31

+23.160

53'42.991

3.547  
6 Japan R. Hirakawa ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL 20 31

+26.303

53'46.134

3.143  
7 Japan N. Matsushita B-Max Racing Team 50 31

+29.376

53'49.207

3.073  
8 Japan Y. Kunimoto Team KCMG 18 31

+37.246

53'57.077

7.870  
9 Japan K. Yamashita Kondo Racing 3 31

+38.205

53'58.036

0.959  
10 Japan T. Makino Dandelion Racing 5 31

+45.381

54'05.212

7.176  
11 Japan S. Sakaguchi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 39 31

+53.585

54'13.416

8.204  
12 Japan K. Kotaka Kondo Racing 4 31

+57.071

54'16.902

3.486  
13
R. Okusa TGM Grand Prix
53 31

+59.071

54'18.902

2.000  
14 Japan K. Oshima docomo business ROOKIE 14 31

+59.600

54'19.431

0.529  
15 Turkey C. Bolukbasi TGM Grand Prix 55 31

+1'10.930

54'30.761

11.330  
16 Japan Y. Sekiguchi ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL 19 31

+1'13.754

54'33.585

2.824  
17 Japan K. Kobayashi Team KCMG 7 31

+1'15.989

54'35.820

2.235  
18 United Kingdom R. Hyman B-Max Racing Team 51 31

+1'24.579

54'44.410

8.590  
dnf Japan N. Fukuzumi ThreeBond Racing 12 26

+5 Laps

46'36.207

5 Laps  
dnf Japan R. Sato TCS Nakajima Racing 65 12

+19 Laps

21'40.312

14 Laps  

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