Home Formula 4Japanese F4 Kimura wins battle between Honda juniors at Suzuka in Japanese F4

Kimura wins battle between Honda juniors at Suzuka in Japanese F4

by Ida Wood

Photo: Japanese F4

Iori Kimura triumphed from pole in the opening race of the Japanese Formula 4 championship’s postponed Suzuka round, but it wasn’t easy.

The Saturday race started behind the safety car due to the track being wet, and the cars weren’t released until lap three of 11.

Honda junior Kimura fled from the action behind, opening up a lead of 1.3 seconds after the first lap of racing. Toyota junior and title rival Seita Nonaka was in second, but he was passed around the outside of 130R by Rin Arakawa and seconds later Kakunoshin Ohta took the outside line for the chicane to pass him too.

The track then got wetter again, with Ohta having a very loose moment while many cars behind went off wide at 130R. This was giving Kimura some reprieve, as he wasn’t actually the fastest driver on track.

On lap six Ohta stuck to the outside around the first two corners to take second from Arakawa. By the end of the lap Arakawa was down to fifth, as Honda junior Syun Koide passed Nonaka around the outside of 130R and then darted down the inside of Arakawa at the chicane to move into a podium spot.

As Ohta closed in on Kimura, Koide closed in on Ohta in an all-Honda battle for victory. Ohta again used the outside of 130R to take the lead on the next lap, and the top three were now spread by less than a second.

They then got even closer as the safety car was called out after Nobuhiro Imada hit Yutaka Toriba into a spin at the chicane and it left him beached. The incident was cleared up in time for just one more lap of racing, and Kimura was immediately on the attack. He tried the outside of the hairpin and Spoon Curve, but couldn’t find a way through.

At 130R he drew alongside Ohta on the outside and kept it there, reclaiming the lead to win as Koide also pressured.

Nonaka, who had passed Reimei Ito at the start of the lap and sailed by Arakawa for fourth when he had to use opposite lock at Spoon, had the run to pass Koide at the chicane but Ohta went too deep ahead of him and got in his way, enabling Koide to hold onto third for a Honda 1-2-3.

A race-long battle between Toyota juniors Eijiro Shimizu and Jiei Okuzumi was broken up by Arakawa’s late error, as he finished between them in sixth place. All three were promoted a spot post-race however as Nonaka was penalised 40s for an illegal pass at the restart.

Race results (11 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Iori Kimura HFDP 31m38.966s
2 Kakunoshin Ohta HFDP +0.787s
3 Syun Koide HFDP +0.994s
4 Eijiro Shimizu TGR-DC RS +1.319s
5 Rin Arakawa TGR-DC RS +1.330s
6 Jiei Okuzumi TGR-DC RS +1.981s
7 Reimei Ito OTG Motor Sports +2.283s
8 Yugo Iwasawa Bionic Jack Racing +2.686s
9 Soto Ogawa Skill Speed +2.902s
10 HIROBON Rn-sports +5.908s
11 Ryosuke Matsuzawa Helm Motorsports +6.266s
12 Daiki Fujiwara KRac Motorsports +11.131s
13 Daiki Okamoto Bionic Jack Racing +12.918s
14 Takuya Otaki Media Do Kageyama Racing +13.924s
15 Makio Saito Akiland Racing +14.245s
16 Max Salo ATEAM Buzz Motorsport +14.963s
17 Tsuyoshi Usui privateer +16.146s
18 DRAGON Zap Speed +17.978s
19 Masayoshi Oyama Akiland Racing +23.088s
20 Sergeyevich Sato Field Motorsports +23.894s
21 Keiji Nakao TCS Racing Team +25.233s
22 Seiya Motojima Saccess Racing +25.538s
23 Nobuhiro Imada B-Max Engineering +26.009s
24 YUGO N-SPEED +30.570s
25 Katsunori Keihara ATEAM Buzz Motorsport +30.974s
26 Makoto Hotta Akiland Racing +33.405s
27 Yoshitsugu Kondo Rn-sports +33.983s
28 Seita Nonaka TGR-DC RS +41.185s
29 Hachiro Osaka Zap Speed +55.982s
30 Teppei Tsuruta ATEAM Buzz Motorsport +1 lap
Ret Yutaka Toriba Helm Motorsports
Pole: Kimura, 2m08.051s   Fastest lap: Shimizu, 2m11.509s

Championship standings
1 Nonaka 115   2 Kimura 84   3 Arakawa 78   4 Ohta 73   5 Shimizu 58   6 Ito 56   7 Koide 53   8 Okuzumi 40   9 Ogawa 26   10 Iwasawa 13