Home Formula RegionalFRegional Japanese Championship Sauter takes two more wins at Okayama to grow FRegional Japan lead

Sauter takes two more wins at Okayama to grow FRegional Japan lead

by Ida Wood

Photo: FRJC

Michael Sauter now has a 53-point Formula Regional Japanese Championship lead after winning twice at Okayama.

In Saturday’s two qualifying sessions he claimed pole for all three races. He set a 1m28.563s to put himself on race one pole by 0.22 seconds over Jesse Lacey, improved to 1m27.425s but had his advantage over Lacey trimmed to 0.131s in the fight for race two pole and set a 1m28.635s to beat him to race three pole by 0.344s.

Race one concluded Saturday’s action, and a slow start from Sauter meat he was jumped by Lacey. Yoshiaki Nakamura passed Sebastian Manson and Fuma Horio off the line for third, with Lacey finishing lap one 0.393s ahead.

That gap grew to 0.694s on lap two, was back down to 0.305s on lap three and then the safety car appeaed on lap four due to Yorikatsu Tsujiko retiring. Racing resumed on lap seven and Lacey spun exiting turn one, with Nakamura taking the lead.

He built a 1.3s gap to Sauter, with Horio a further 0.6s behind as Lacey got going again in a very distant seventh. By lap 10 the gap between the top two was 0.379s, and Sauter attempted a swithback move at the end of the back straight. Nakamura began lap 11 0.217s ahead, and Sauter dived to the inside of him at Attwood Curve. He went too deep but managed to make the pass stick, even though Nakamura had the benefit of the slipstream exiting the corner.

Sauter sprinted away after that, winning the 18-lap race by 6.685s. Horio held off Manson for third, and Lacey managed to chase down and pass “Yugo” for sixth.

The seven-car field (since Horio did not take up his third place grid slot due to clutch issues) faced a wet track for race two on Sunday. Slater slid away from pole, and Nakamura took second from Lacey as drivers aquaplaned around the opening lap.

Sauter was already 2.452s clear as they began lap two, and Lacey managed to reclaim second place then set two successive fastest laps to keep Sauter in sight.

But on lap five Sauter was a second faster and led by 3.1s. They traded fastest laps thereon, with Sauter’s lead reaching four seconds after lap 15. He finished 4.815s ahead, but a 10s penalty for jumping the start meant Lacey was victorious.

Nakamura had a small gap to Manson until the last lap when Manson made a diving move that earned him a 30s penalty and put Nakamura out. Manson still finished third, and Nakamura was classified a lap down in fourth.

The track had dried for race three, and this time Nakamura was a non-starter. Another slow start by Sauter meant Lacey overtook him exiting turn two. He built a one-second lead over the first three laps, but Sauter then closed in and after a few attempts on lap nine reclaimed the lead on lap 11.

The safety car appeared a lap later due to Horio retiring, and stayed out to the finish. That proved costly for Lacey, whose 10s penalty for jumping the start demoted him to fourth. Anna Inotsume got a 30s penalty for overtaking behind the safety car.

Results round-up
Race 1 (18 laps)
1 Michael Sauter Birth Racing Project 29m47.992s
2 Yoshiaki Nakamura TOM’S +6.685s
3 Fuma Horio Sutekina Racing Team +7.387s
4 Sebastian Manson Birth Racing Project +7.765s
5 Anna Inotsume Helm Motorsports +22.992s
6 Jesse Lacey Bionic Jack Racing +52.043s
7 “Yugo” N-Speed +1 lap
Ret Yorikatsu Tsujiko Ponos Racing
Pole: Sauter, 1m28.563s
Fastest lap: Sauter, 1m29.908s

Race 2 (18 laps)
1 Lacey 31m07.268s
2 Sauter +5.185s
3 Manson +50.121s
4 Nakamura +1 lap
5 Tsujiko +1 lap
6 Inotsume +1 lap
7 “Yugo” +3 laps
DNS Horio
P: Sauter, 1m27.425s
FL: Sauter, 1m41.809s

Race 3 (17 laps)
1 Sauter 32m19.654s
2 Manson +1.158s
3 Tsujiko +3.244s
4 Lacey +10.420s
5 Inotsume +32.090s
6 “Yugo” +2 laps
Ret Horio
DNS Nakamura
P: Sauter, 1m28.635s
FL: Sauter, 1m29.356s

Championship standings
1 Sauter 151   2 Manson 98   3 Lacey 87   4 Nakamura 74   5 Horio 65   6 Jiei Okuzumi 61   Inotsume 58   8 Tsujiko 39   9 “Yugo” 33   10 “Motoki” 26