There were only seven cars on the Formula Regional Japanese Championship grid at Twin Ring Motegi, but two new faces.
Points leader Seita Ogawa was fastest in Q1 by just 0.097 seconds over the debuting Enzo Trulli, a winner at the next level in Japan, with Jiei Okuzumi qualifying third after switching teams from Buzz Racing to join Ogawa at Bionic Jack Racing.
In race one Trulli stalled at the start, his first in a FRegional car, and that promoted Liam Sceats into third. Trulli ended up battling fellow debutant Michael Sauter for fourth, and by lap five he had got back ahead of Sceats into third with a pass down the pit straight.
Ogawa was several seconds clear by lap seven of 16, but then on lap eight he lost a significant amount of time to Okuzumi. The top three closed up, but Ogawa was pulling away again by lap 11 as Sceats started to close back in on Trulli.
There was a big change on lap 12 as Ogawa ploughed into the gravel at the turn nine left-hander and retired.
Okuzumi now led and he decided to push, building a lead of 3.5s before backing off and finishing 2.42s clear of Trulli. Sceats was a further 1.372s back in third, and Sauter was a distant fourth.
Ogawa had a chance at redemption as in Q2 he had taken pole for race two by 0.161s over Trulli, with Okuzumi and Sceats qualifying third and fourth.
Trulli made a slow start again, but Ogawa still had to cover the inside heading to turn one. By the end of lap one he was 1.157s clear, but Trulli did not let him break away.
On lap 10 he pressured Ogawa, and by lap 14 was really filling his mirrors. But he refused to attempt an overtake until the last lap, as Ogawa ran wide at turn nine and he got alongside. They stayed side-by-side at the turn 10 hairpin, and Ogawa went defensive down the following straight yet Trulli still found room to get inside of him under braking.
The pair continued to run side-by-side through the final corners and to the chequered flag, where Ogawa won in a photo finish by 0.01s. Okuzumi trailed them home in third.
The second-best laptimes from Q2 set the race three grid and Ogawa took pole by 0.267s over Trulli.
It was Trulli who led at turn one, and after a battle-filled opening lap Sceats was in second ahead of Okuzumi, Sauter and Ogawa after the poleman hit the gravel at turn four during a scuffle with Trulli.
The top five stayed close together, and on lap eight Ogawa took fourth down the back straight. Sceats started lap nine by looking to the outside of Trulli entering turn one then getting on his inside at the exit. They ran side-by-side to turn three, where Trulli asserted himelf as being ahead.
Ogawa passed Okuzumi for third at turn 11, and on the next lap Sceats took the lead at the final corner. Trulli was then passed by Ogawa at turn one, with 1.784s covering the top five.
Sceats and Ogawa were then able to streak away though, and Sauter won by 3.083s.
Sauter passed Okuzumi for fourth at turn 11 on lap 14, and spent the first seven corners of the last lap side-by-side with Trulli. He briefly got by, but Trulli barged back past at turn nine. At the finish just 0.106s split them.
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 Jiei Okuzumi Bionic Jack Racing 29m52.911s
2 Enzo Trulli TOM’S +2.420s
3 Liam Sceats Sutekina Racing Team +3.792s
4 Michael Sauter Sutekina Racing Team +10.464s
5 Yoshitsugu Kondo Rn-sports +37.631s
6 “Yuki” Nilzz Racing +47.642s
Ret Sota Ogawa Bionic Jack Racing
Pole: Ogawa, 1m49.776s
Fastest lap: Ogawa, 1m50.943s
Race 2 (16 laps)
1 Ogawa 29m57.814s
2 Trulli +0.010s
3 Okuzumi +1.783s
4 Sceats +23.377s
5 Sauter +34.576s
6 Kondo +42.742s
7 “Yuki” +4 laps
P: Ogawa, 1m49.132s
FL: Trulli, 1m51.649s
Race 3 (16 laps)
1 Sceats 30m16.210s
2 Ogawa +3.083s
3 Trulli +11.665s
4 Sauter +11.771s
5 Okuzumi +12.272s
6 Kondo +37.860s
7 “Yuki” +4 laps
P: Ogawa, 1m49.927s
FL: Sceats, 1m52.004s
1 Ogawa 186.5 2 Sceats 139.5 3 Yugo Iwasawa 84.5 4 Okuzumi 77 5 Ryunosuke Sawa 58 6 Yuya Hiraki 55 7 Yu Kanamaru 55 8 Trulli 51 9 Kondo 50 10 Sauter 34