The Formula Regional Japan season concluded at Sportsland SUGO with victories for Jiei Okuzumi and Michael Sauter, and title success for Sota Ogawa.
Enzo Trulli earned pole for race one when the nine-car field tackled qualifying, setting a 1m18.515s on his final lap to pip Sauter by 0.065s. Okuzumi was 0.39s behind in third, Kazuki Oki was 0.946s off the pace in fourth and Ogawa was 1.206s back in fifth. Neither Yoshitsugu Kondo or Sky Chen got within 110% of the pole pace and both missed race one.
Sauter had a lap good enough for pole, a 1m18.357s, deleted and Liam Sceats had his fastest lap deleted too although it had no impact on his sixth place.
There was redemption for Sauter as a 1m18.167s lap earned him race two pole by 1.439s over Okuzumi, and a 1m18.799s put him on pole for race three over Okuzumi by 0.143s. Trulli was the only other driver within a second of Sauter in that classification, 0.32s slower in third.
After several formation laps, Trulli made a bad start to race one and immediately lost the lead to Sauter. It was a four-wide battle for second going into turn one, and Okuzumi prevailed while Trulli had a race-ending off at turn two.
The safety car came out later in the lap, with Sceats and Ogawa in third and fourth. Racing did not resume until lap five, and Sauter came under immediate pressure. He resisted several overtake attempts from Okuzumi to finish the lap 0.653s ahead.
The gaps between the six drivers on track opened up after that, and Sauter finished the 20-lapper 4.264s clear of Okuzumi. However a 10s penalty for jumping the start dropped him to fourth. Oki also got a 10s penalty, but with no impact on his fifth place.
Race two featured six cars as Trulli skipped it, and that reduced to five once Sauter retired in the pits on lap six. He had fallen from from first to fourth at the start, behind Okuzumi, Oki and Sceats, then to a lonely last on lap two some 15s behind the rest of the field.
On lap nine 2.4s covered the top four, with Oki getting within 0.42s of Okuzumi by the lap’s end. But he also had to watch Sceats in his mirrors, which prevented him from going for the lead. The gaps remained stable until lap 16 when 0.343s seperated first and second and Sceats set his personal best lap.
Okuzumi set his personal best next time by and won by 0.479s after 20 laps, with Sceats 0.96s behind.
Sauter again lost the lead at the start of race three, ending lap one 0.154s behind Okuzumi. More significantly Ogawa in fourth was ahead of sole title rival Sceats.
On lap five Sauter got back past Okuzumi, and Trulli tried following through but ended up spinning and retiring. That enabled Sauter to break three seconds clear, and he grew his gap further for a big win.
Ogawa became champion in fourth. In the race’s second half, Oki passed Sceats then hunted down Ogawa to pass him too for third.
Race 1 (20 laps)
1 Jiei Okuzumi Sutekina Racing Team 29m23.061s
2 Liam Sceats Sutekina Racing Team +1.938s
3 Sota Ogawa Bionic Jack Racing +3.861s
4 Michael Sauter Bionic Jack Racing +5.736s
5 Kazuki Oki Ponos Racing +16.862s
6 Kizuku Hirota +17.515s
Ret Enzo Trulli TOM’S
DNS Yoshitsugu Kondo Rn-sports
Pole: Trulli, 1m18.515s
Fastest lap: Sauter, 1m18.842s
Race 2 (20 laps)
1 Okuzumi 26m47.300s
2 Oki +0.479s
3 Sceats +0.960s
4 Ogawa +1.927s
5 Hirota +19.561s
P: Sauter, 1m18.167s
FL: Ogawa, 1m19.643s
Race 3 (20 laps)
1 Sauter 26m45.819s
2 Okuzumi +14.675s
3 Oki +15.727s
4 Ogawa +18.069s
5 Sceats +22.786s
6 Hirota +33.558s
P: Sauter, 1m18.799s
FL: Sauter, 1m19.272s
1 Ogawa 243.5 2 Sceats 219.5 3 Okuzumi 145 4 Ryunosuke Sawa 98 5 Yugo Iwasawa 84.5 6 Oki 80 7 Sauter 71 8 Yuya Hiraki 55 9 Yu Kanamaru 55 10 Enzo Trulli 51