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Nonaka wins at Fuji as Honda and Toyota start new F4 rivalry

by Ida Wood

Photo: Japanese F4

Honda Formula Dream Project made a winning return to Japanese Formula 4 at Fuji Speedway, but it was Toyota junior Seita Nonaka who departed the season opener as points leader.

New Toyota junior Rin Arakawa set the pace in qualifying for race one, but was handed a seven-place grid penalty for repeated track limits violations and it resulted in Honda juniors Iori Kimura and Syun Koide filling the front row.

Koide attacked Kimura through the opening corners of the race, before tucking in behind his team-mate and staying there for the race’s 14-lap duration. Nonaka and Honda junior Kakunoshin Ohta followed closely behind too, with the top four pulling away but never really challenging each other.

On the penultimate lap, Koide got very close to Kimura into the first corner but had to lock his brakes to avoid going into the back of him and that meant he spent the remaining time concentrating on keeping Nonaka at bay and Kimura won.

Toyota junior Eijirou Shimizu led the train of the next four cars. OTG Motor Sports’ Reimei Ito occupied fifth initially, but in the second half of the race he faded to eighth behind Shimizu and his team-mates Arakawa and Jiei Okuzumi.

Koide claimed race two pole, edging recent Super Formula Lights racer Nonaka by 0.038 seconds.

Nonaka made the better start and led into the first corner as Koide was spun around by Kimura. This promoted Ohta and Arakawa to second and third, although Arakawa took second at the first corner of lap two.

Ohta dropped another spot at the same place on lap three to Shimizu, and ended up locking up, spinning and hitting Shimizu before plummeting down the order.

The action calmed down until the race’s halfway point, when Okuzumi passed Shimizu for third at Coca Cola corner and then Ito got by at 100 R.

Ito passed Okuzumi on the next lap, but went too deep into the Dunlop chicane and spun down to sixth.

Shimizu spent the next few laps hassling Okuzumi for third, while Arakawa closed in on leader Nonaka. After banging wheels several times, Shimizu reclaimed third down the pit straight, and defended in the remaining laps to stay ahead.

Okuzumi’s last attempt was a final lap lunge at the first corner that resulted in him locking up and losing a place to Skill Speed’s Sota Ogawa. Arakawa got close to Nonaka at the same corner, but couldn’t pass him and meant he took his first win.

Results round-up
Race 1 (14 laps)
1 Iori Kimura HFDP 24m43.516s
2 Syun Koide HFDP +0.710s
3 Seita Nonaka TGR-DC RS +1.163s
4 Kakunoshin Ohta HFDP +1.896s
5 Eijirou Shimizu TGR-DC RS +3.499s
6 Rin Arakawa TGR-DC RS +4.988s
7 Jiei Okuzumi TGR-DC RS +6.593s
8 Reimei Ito OTG Motor Sports +7.486s
9 Sota Ogawa Skill Speed +14.160s
10 Seiya Motojima Saccess Racing +15.450s
Pole: Kimura, 1m45.470s
Fastest lap: Arakawa, 1m45.236s

Race 2 (14 laps)
1 Nonaka 24m42.462s
2 Arakawa +0.643s
3 Shimizu +8.419s
4 Ogawa +8.944s
5 Okuzumi +9.755s
6 Ito +10.263s
7 Koide +10.754s
8 Motojima +17.163s
9 Ryosuke Matsuzawa Helm Motorsports +18.797s
10 Daiki Fujiwara KRac Motorsports +20.224s
P: Koide, 1m45.500s
FL: Koide, 1m45.263s

Championship standings
1 Nonaka 40   2 Arakawa 26   3 Kimura 25   4 Shimizu 25   5 Koide 24   6 Okuzumi 16   7 Ogawa 14   8 Ohta 12   9 Ito 12   10 Motojima 5