Ukyo Sasahara (TEAM MUGEN) takes a long-sought first win!
The 2022 Japanese Super Formula Championship Round 6 race was held at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture on Sunday 17 July, with Ukyo Sasahara (TEAM MUGEN) pulling off a major upset to take his long-sought first win.
Although the weather was still somewhat unstable in the morning, unlike Saturday’s stormy weather, Sunday turned into a dry day only slightly overcast with occasional but strong sunshine. The air temperatures stable at 27°C and track surface temperatures of 37°C.
The race was to be contested over 41 laps (approx. 187 km) at the 4.563 km Fuji Speedway track, with at least one set (four tire changes) of dry tire change required. However, Nobuharu Matsushita (B-Max Racing Team) stopped during the formation lap of the first lap. An extra formation was used and the race was finally contested over 40 laps.
Right on the first corner at the first lap of the race, Tomoki Nojiri (TEAM MUGEN), the 3rd position on the grid, passed Sho Tsuboi (P.MU/CERUMO/INGINGING) into the second position.
Behind the top mob, there was contact and Ryo Hirakawa (CARENEX TEAM IMPUL) resulting in damage to Hirakawa’s right rear tire, Atsushi Miyake (TEAM GOH) too retired here.
On lap three, Naoki Yamamoto (TCS NAKAJIMA RACING), who had moved up to eighth position coming out of turn two, made contact with Sascha Fenestraz (KONDO RACING). Fenestraz’s car was severely damaged resulting in one more car retiring from the race.
The SC Safety Car (SC) was deployed, and the race restarted on lap 10.
As soon as the pit stop window opened, Nojiri, in 2nd position, immediately pitted to change tires. Yuhi Sekiguchi (CARENEX TEAM IMPUL) pitted in at the end of lap 26, finishing the tire change at an astonishing speed of just under 5 seconds.
However, after returning to the course, Sekiguchi’s right rear tire fell off in sector 3 and Sekiguchi was forced to retire from the race.
Meanwhile, Tsuboi finished his mandatory tire change pit stop and returned to the course in front of Nojiri. At this point, the SC car was introduced in order to allow marshals’ to pick up Sekiguchi’s car. Ukyo Sasahara (TEAM MUGEN), who had just finished his pit stop, took advantage of the SC car’s timing and got out in front of Tsuboi, who had slowed down. Sasahara took the lead.
On the restart with 10 laps to go, Nojiri in third and Ritomo Miyata (Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S) in the fourth position went into a fierce battle but Nojiri was able to hold off the challenge and defend his position.
A dizzying and tumultuous Round 6 indeed.
Ukyo Sasahara took his first win, with Sho Tsuboi in 2nd place and Tomoki Nojiri in 3rd.
The next rounds will be held at Mobility Resort Motegi in Tochigi Prefecture on 20-21 August (Sat-Sun) for Rounds 7 and 8.