The Super Formula Lights season got underway at Fuji Speedway with three first-time winners in a thrilling weekend.
B-MAX Racing’s Teppei Natori was the fastest driver in qualifying, just beating Toda Racing’s Formula 4 graduate Ren Sato to take a double pole.
Race one was disputed solely between the pair, immediately pulling away at the start while Seita Nonaka, standing in for Super Formula-occupied Kazuto Kotaka at TOM’S, dropped back from third on the grid with a slow start.
That freed his team-mates Giuliano Alesi and Hibiki Taira in third and fourth, both also making their series debut, but they couldn’t match the pace of the Spiess-powered drivers at the front.
After falling to sixth, Nonaka sat behind RS Fine’s Shunsuke Kohno until a pass late on that brought Albirex Racing’s Seiya Jin past too. They then collided, with Nonaka briefly on top of Jin, allowing Kohno back past. Jin had to retire as he had no front wing, while Nonaka was given a 30-second penalty.
Sato meanwhile got really close to Natori late on, but couldn’t make a pass and finished 0.622s behind the winner.
In the next race Sato did get the job done, tracking Natori for 10 laps before pressuring him into a mistake at the first corner and passing him for the lead. It looked like Alesi would finish third behind the pair until he spun at the corner preceding the move for the win, and he instead finished sixth behind Nonaka, Jin and Rn-sports’ Atsushi Miyake.
The third race used a reversed grid and resulted in a first win for single-seater returnee Miyake and the Rn-sports team, as Natori charged up the order to second place. Alesi pipped Taira to third place at the finish by just 0.006s, with Jin and Nonaka rounding out the points.
Race 1 (21 laps)
1 Teppei Natori B-MAX Racing 32m59.578s
2 Ren Sato Toda Racing +0.622s
3 Giuliano Alesi TOM’S +7.353s
4 Hibiki Taira TOM’S +17.744s
5 Shunsuke Kohno RS Fine +20.961s
6 Atsushi Miyake Rn-sports +22.129s
7 Miki Koyama B-Max Engineering +24.935s
8 Nobuhiro Imada B-Max Engineering +37.265s
9 Seita Nonaka TOM’S +44.497s
10 DRAGON B-Max Engineering +50.880s
Pole: Natori, 1m33.517s
Fastest lap: Natori, 1m33.893s
Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Sato 23m37.438s
2 Natori +1.903s
3 Nonaka +7.012s
4 Seiya Jin Albirex Racing +7.552s
5 Miyake +14.546s
6 Alesi +15.434s
7 Kohno +17.371s
8 Koyama +18.441s
9 DRAGON +27.568s
10 Imada +28.078s
P: Natori, 1m33.654s
FL: Sato, 1m33.923s
Race 3 (15 laps)
1 Miyake 27m24.115s
2 Natori +1.018s
3 Alesi +7.506s
4 Taira +7.512s
5 Jin +8.504s
6 Nonaka +11.913s
7 Koyama +30.126s
8 DRAGON +34.009s
9 Sato +48.547s
10 Masayuki Ueda Rn-sports +1m00.421s
FL: Sato, 1m38.705s
1 Natori 27 2 Sato 19 3 Miyake 13 4 Alesi 11 5 Nonaka 6 6 Taira 6 7 Jin 5 8 Kohno 2 9 Koyama 0 10 DRAGON 0