Home Formula RegionalFRegional Japanese Championship Sota Ogawa takes FRegional Japan lead in round one at Fuji Speedway

Sota Ogawa takes FRegional Japan lead in round one at Fuji Speedway

by Ida Wood

Photo: FRJC

Sota Ogawa leads the Formula Regional Japanese Championship standings after round one at Fuji Speedway.

Ogawa topped practice by 0.061 seconds over Yuya Hiraki, then led Q1 by 0.625s to earn race one pole. His second best laptime earned him race three pole, and topping Q2 by 0.359s over Ryunosuke Sawa meant he got race two pole as well.

Sawa stalled at the start of race one, and Hiraki took the lead down the inside of Ogawa at turn one. The pair then gapped themselves from the battle for third, while Sawa made his way back into the top five on lap two.

Hiraki appeared to have the advantage down the straights, but on lap six of 15 the slipstream effect was strong enough for Ogawa to reclaim the lead by going around the outside at turn one.

Later in the lap a lock-up for Hiraki meant the lead battle paused until lap 10 when he utilised the slipstream to attack at the end of the pit straight. He could not make a move, and his next chance came on the penultimate lap.

Hiraki thought of going for a move at the turn six hairpin and as they went through turn seven, then stayed glued to Ogawa’s gearbox up to the turn 11/12 chicane. He tried the inside of 13th corner and got alongside but then had to back out as Ogawa squeezed across.

Ogawa got defensive again as they headed down the pit straight to start the final lap, and Hiraki went for the outside entering turn one. Early braking meant he swapped across to have the inside as they exited the corner, and they ran side-by-side through turn two and almost touched wheels. Hiraki completed the move at turn three, then held on to win by 0.207s.

Sawa managed to recover to third in a thrilling fight, chasing down Yugo Iwasawa and Liam Sceats who was competing as FRJC’s ‘scholarship driver’ and had Kiwi team M2 Competition supporting him.

It took until lap seven for Sawa to get close enough to think about passing Sceats, then he used the slipstream to get him the next lap. On lap 10 he pressured Iwasawa into an error and passed him at turn three, but Iwasawa came back at him at turn one next time by.

They exited the corner side-by-side, with Sawa only nosing ahead again at turn three. Sceats was now right behind again, and he dived down the inside of Iwasawa at turn one on lap 12. There appeared to be contact as Iwasawa then slowed dramatically and dropped back by eight seconds over the remaining laps.

Ogawa held the lead off the line in race two, but then had a huge lock-up at turn one and went off, rejoining in fourth.

Sawa inherited the lead and held it thereon, winning by 0.698s after receiving a five-second penalty. Hiraki and Iwasawa duelled early on over second, but did not have the pace and finished 9.674s and 18.808s back respectively in third and fourth.

Ogawa won race three by 3.056s, holding off a turn one attack on lap one by going deep and then gapping himself from the battles behind.

Sawa took until lap eight to claim second from Iwasawa, who was then passed by Hiraki on lap 13 while Sceats watched from behind.

Results round-up
Race 1 (15 laps)
1 Yuya Hiraki Helm Motorsports 24m50.917s
2 Sota Ogawa Bionic Jack Racing +0.207s
3 Ryunosuke Sawa Sutekina Racing Team +9.736s
4 Liam Sceats Sutekina Racing Team +11.224s
5 Yugo Iwasawa Bionic Jack Racing +19.329s
6 Yorikatsu Tsujiko PONOS Racing +1m10.097s
7 “Yuki” NILZZ Racing +1m10.609s
8 “Yugo” S2R Racing +1m12.980s
9 Masahiro Hayashi Hayashi Sports +1 lap
Pole: Ogawa, 1m37.732s
Fastest lap: Hiraki, 1m38.630s

Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Sawa 24m46.560s
2 Ogawa +0.698s
3 Hiraki +9.674s
4 Iwasawa +18.808s
5 Tsujiko +1m09.670s
6 “Yugo” +1 lap
7 Hayashi +1 lap
8 “Yuki” +2 laps
Ret Sceats
P: Ogawa, 1m37.049s
FL: Sawa, 1m38.104s

Race 3 (15 laps)
1 Ogawa 24m36.288s
2 Sawa +3.056s
3 Hiraki +6.575s
4 Iwasawa +7.571s
5 Sceats +7.816s
6 “Yuki” +1m12.487s
7 Tsujiko +1m21.168s
8 “Yugo” +1m52.087s
9 Hayashi +1 lap
P: Ogawa, 1m37.820s
FL: Ogawa, 1m37.877s

Championship standings
1 Ogawa 61   2 Sawa 58   3 Hiraki 55   4 Iwasawa 34   5 Tsujiko 24   6 Sceats 22   7 “Yuki” 18   8 “Yugo” 16   9 Hayashi 10