Race report

Super Formula Suzuka: Nojiri ends season with dominant win

Newly-crowned Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri scored a second win of the season in dominant style in Sunday's final race of 2022.

From pole position, Team Mugen driver Nojiri was never truly threatened on his way to an eighth career win in Japan's top single-seater series, having already wrapped up the title on Saturday.

As Nojiri led at the start, third-place starter Hiroki Otsu was able to jump ahead of a slow-starting Ritomo Miyata to grab second, with Ukyo Sasahara moving up from fourth to third.

The safety car was deployed almost immediately when Nirei Fukuzumi went off at Turn 1 into the barriers, and while Nojiri was untroubled at the restart on lap 3 of 31, Sasahara didn't get up to speed exiting the final chicane, dropping him behind both Miyata and Sho Tsuboi into fifth.

Sasahara was first to pit when the window opened on lap 10, while Otsu and Tsuboi followed in him next time round.

Tsuboi managed to rebuff Sasahara on colder tyres, but the two came to blows at the chicane at the end of that lap, leaving Sasahara with a damaged front wing that caused him to come back into the pits.

A collision involving Giuliano Alesi and Nobuharu Matsushita at the chicane then brought out the safety car for a second time, allowing the leading group of cars a cheaper pitstop at the head of the field.

Nojiri duly came in on lap 13 and maintained his lead from Otsu, while Miyata followed Nojiri into the pits along with Sacha Fenestraz and Ryo Hirakawa also among those to pit under the safety car.

Fenestraz jumped Tsuboi for fourth in the process, but the order among the top three didn't change, and Nojiri was able to pull away from Otsu over the remaining laps and take the chequered flag by 6.8 seconds to end a winless run stretching back to the opening weekend of the year at Fuji.

Behind third-placed Miyata, Fenestraz held fourth to cement his position as runner-up in the standings, with Hirakawa able to pass the limping Inging machine of Tsuboi for fifth.

As Tsuboi sunk down the order, Naoki Yamamoto finished sixth in his 100th Super Formula start, marking his best finish of the year in dry conditions, leading home Nakajima Racing team-mate Toshiki Oyu.

Atsushi Miyake was eighth for Team Goh but missed out on top rookie honours to his team-mate Ren Sato, who endured a disastrous race as he spun under the first safety car period and was awarded a five-second penalty.

Tadasuke Makino was ninth after a late failed attempt at passing Miyake, while Kamui Kobayashi pulled off a sensational double overtake at Turn 1 on Yuhi Sekiguchi and Tsuboi to claim the final point in 10th.

Alesi escaped a penalty for his collision with Matsushita and finished 17th, a place behind the recovering Sasahara.

Super Formula Suzuka - Race 2 results:

Cla # Driver Team Gap
1 1 Japan Tomoki Nojiri Team Mugen  
2 6 Japan Hiroki Otsu Japan Dandelion Racing 6.857
3 37 Japan Ritomo Miyata Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 8.000
4 4 France Sacha Fenestraz Kondo Racing 10.549
5 20 Japan Ryo Hirakawa Team Impul 13.862
6 64 Japan Naoki Yamamoto TCS Nakajima Racing 14.803
7 65 Japan Toshiki Oyu TCS Nakajima Racing 18.707
8 55 Japan Atsushi Miyake Team Goh 31.953
9 5 Japan Tadasuke Makino Japan Dandelion Racing 32.799
10 7 Japan Kamui Kobayashi KCMG 33.017
11 19 Japan Yuhi Sekiguchi Team Impul 34.492
12 38 Japan Sho Tsuboi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 39.733
13 3 Japan Kenta Yamashita Kondo Racing 40.664
14 39 Japan Sena Sakaguchi P.MU/CERUMO・INGING 40.854
15 14 Japan Kazuya Oshima docomo business ROOKIE 41.854
16 15 Japan Ukyo Sasahara Team Mugen 42.475
17 36 France Giuliano Alesi Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S 43.540
18 18 Japan Yuji Kunimoto KCMG 47.920
19 53 Japan Ren Sato Team Goh 1'01.350
20 50 Japan Nobuharu Matsushita B-Max Racing Team 20 Laps
21 12 Japan Nirei Fukuzumi ThreeBond Drago CORSE  
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