Honda junior Yusuke Mitsui bounced back from a points-free opening Japanese Formula 4 round to win both races of round two at Suzuka.
The 46-car field was split into two groups for qualifying, with Mitsui going fastest overall in Group B with a 2m07.929s lap.
He led fellow Honda junior Yuto Nomura by 0.094 seconds, while in Group A it was Tosei Moriyama – another Honda junior – who was fastest by 0.298s over Toyota junior Rikuto Kobayashi but with a 2m08.371s lap meant his group would fill the even-numbered places on the race one grid while Mitsui’s group filled the odd-numbered positions.
The start of race one was delayed due to privateer Tsuyoshi Usui’s car leaking oil all around the lap on the way to the grid, and it meant he not only missed the race but also led to the safety car leading the field through the first two laps.
That became three laps due to a collision towards the back of the pack at the last corner, and racing finally got underway on lap four. Mitsui made a great jump at the front, while Kobayashi passed Nomura in style through the ‘S’ Curves.
Behind them Toyota junior Jin Nakamura tried passing Itsuki Sato for fifth at the first corner but spun off and the safety car came out again.
The restart was supposed to take place a lap later, but Mitsui slowed down the field as much as possible on the straight after Spoon Curve that several drivers locked up behind him and then Masamune Handa was sent into retirement after a multi-car collision as everyone ran out of room to slow down in.
That meant the safety car was needed again before the restart even took place, and on the second scheduled restart on lap eight there was thankfully not a repeat of the previous chaos despite Mitsui weaving and slowing the field once more.
He did not accelerate away until reaching the pit straight, and he only then had to hold off the opposition for one lap as the race was shortened by two tours.
Kobayashi went on the inside of Moriyama at turn one, and the latter went off and dropped to fifth. There was not enough time for Kobayashi to pass Mitsui for the win, while Moriyama took fourth from Rin Arakawa after they banged wheels. Full points were awarded despite the lack of green flag action.
The second-best laptimes of each driver from qualifying set the race two grid, and there was the same top four with Mitsui having topped his group by 0.227s.
Mitsui was practically unchallenged in the race, winning by 1.098s over Moriyama and with Nomura 2.084s behind.
Arakawa passed Kobayashi for fourth on lap one, and their battling was paused at the end of lap three when Makoto Fujiwara and DRAGON collided entering 130R. The latter went rolling into the barriers, and the safety car was out until lap eight.
Ryota Hirachi passed Nakamura around the outside at the final chicane on lap nine, but Nakamura regained the place at turn one as Shunji Okumoto got involved. Kobayashi then reclaimed fourth around the outside of 130R, just as he and Arakawa came under pressure from Nakamura, and held on to the position to end the weekend with a 20-point championship lead.
Race 1 (9 laps)
1 Yusuke Mitsui HFDP 31m02.376s
2 Rikuto Kobayashi TGR-DC RS +0.469s
3 Yuto Nomura HFDP +0.985s
4 Tosei Moriyama HFDP +1.672s
5 Rin Arakawa Zap Speed +2.489s
6 Itsuki Sato Helm Motorsports +3.260s
7 Kento Omiya PONOS Racing +3.489s
8 Yuki Sano TGR-DC RS +4.271s
9 Ryota Horachi Akiland Racing +4.350s
10 Shunji Okumoto TGR-DC RS +4.478s
Pole: Mitsui, 2m07.929s
Fastest lap: Kobayashi, 2m10.812s
Race 2 (11 laps)
1 Mitsui 28m36.205s
2 Moriyama +1.098s
3 Nomura +2.084s
4 Kobayashi +5.414s
5 Arakawa +6.189s
6 Jin Nakamura TGR-DC RS +6.513s
7 Okumoto +7.246s
8 Horachi +7.523s
9 Omiya +8.454s
10 Kazuhisa Urabe Bionic Jack Racing +8.885s
P: Mitsui, 2m07.935s
FL: Mitsui, 2m08.312s
1 Kobayashi 70 2 Mitsui 50 3 Nomura 48 4 Moriyama 42 5 Nakamura 33 6 Arakawa 32 7 Okumoto 31 8 Sano 21 9 Sato 16 10 Horachi 14