While the Formula Regional Japanese Championship grid grew from seven to 11 cars for the World Endurance Championship-supporting round at Fuji Speedway, there was limited competition as per usual.
The first practice session was cancelled due to a typhoon, and former Super Formula Lights driver Mizuki Ishizaka topped the second with a 1m38.761s lap to lead Sota Ogawa by 0.115 seconds. Ryunosuke Sawa was a further 0.021s behind, and Liam Sceats completed a top four covered by 0.377s. That session was shortened by red flags, but most drivers still managed to do at least 14 laps.
Sutekina Racing Team’s Sawa moved to the front in the wet qualifying session that set the grid for race one, a 1m51.799s earning him pole by 0.532s over Ogawa. Ishizaka was 1.632s off the pace in third, and Liam Sceats 2.339s back in fourth.
“Yugo, “Yuki” and Sky Chen were all to slow to qualifying, all three being over 12s slower than Sawa, yet they were allowed to race.
It was a similar story in qualifying for race two, where the track was again wet but laptimes were fater. Ogawa claimed his 11th pole of 2023 with a 1m49.687s lap, going 0.308s faster than next-best driver Sawa.
Sceats was the only other person within a second of the pace, and this time the three backmarkers – all competing in the Masters classification – were over 11s slower than the pole time. Regardless, they were given permission to race despite exceeding the maximum qualifying time by some margin.
Sawa converted pole into victory in race one, which was also held on a wet track, and his winning margin was smaller than what he had when taking pole as Ogawa was only 0.322s behind at the finish.
Ogawa actually led into the first corner on lap one, and held a half-second advantage over Sawa until they encountered traffic to lap in the race’s second half. That enabled Sawa to get right on Ogawa’s tail, and he tried passing into turn one on lap 12 of 15.
He could not do it, but rain then began to fall and Sawa got through at Coca Cola a lap later.
Ishizaka held off Sceats for third, and everyone else managed to lose 5.9s or more per lap to the lead fight over the course of the race. Sky Chen and “Yugo” were not only lapped, but still finished over 48s behind Sawa.
Fog descended on the circuit for the start of race two, and after a few laps it began to rain too. That led to Ogawa going off at turn one on lap three, but he managed to not lose the lead. Sawa tried attacking him on lap five but went off, then on lap six Ogawa spun away the lead anyway and Sceats was promoted to the front.
He was in battle with Ishizaka, but once the rain stopped he was able to be more comfortable in the lead and took his third win to reduce Ogawa’s points lead. Sawa recovered to third, and Ogawa retired.
Race 1 (15 laps)
1 Ryunosuke Sawa Sutekina Racing Team 25m05.015s
2 Sota Ogawa Bionic Jack Racing +0.322s
3 Mizuki Ishizaka Sutekina Racing Team +13.930s
4 Liam Sceats Sutekina Racing Team +14.958s
5 Anna Inotsume Bionic Jack Racing +1m29.218s
6 Yorikatsu Tsujiko Ponos Racing +1m37.574s
7 Toshihiro Kubota Tokaidenso +1m42.453s
8 “Motoki” Rn-sports +1m47.662s
9 “Yuki” Nilzz Racing +2m39.492s
10 Sky Chen Sky Motorsports +1 lap
Pole: Sawa, 1m51.779s
Fastest lap: Sawa, 1m37.867s
Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Sceats 26m23.698s
2 Ishizaka +0.820s
3 Sawa +2.710s
4 Inotsume +54.519s
5 “Motoki” +1m34.362s
6 Kubota +1 lap
7 Chen +1 lap
8 “Yugo” S2R Racing +2 laps
9 Tsujiko +2 laps
10 “Yuki” +3 laps
P: Ogawa, 1m49.687s
FL: Sawa, 1m38.372s
1 Ogawa 204.5 2 Sceats 176.5 3 Sawa 98 4 Yugo Iwasawa 84.5 5 Jiei Okuzumi 77 6 Yuya Hiraki 55 7 Yu Kanamaru 55 8 Enzo Trulli 51 9 Yoshitsugu Kondo 50 10 “Yuki” 41