Tomoki Takahashi moved into the points lead of Formula Regional Japanese Championship at Sportsland SUGO, with the dominators of the season opener absent from the grid.
Super Licence driver Takahashi, who raced in the similar Asian Formula 3 series last year, started the weekend with a dominant first win from pole position.
He was mistake free until after the chequered flag, when he span at the first corner. The winner put it down to potentially being caused by a problem with left-rear tyre wear.
Karting graduate Yuga Furutani also had a lonely run in second place for TOM’S, with Zap Speed’s Yuki Nemoto – a regular racer in Lamborghinis – completing the three-strong entry of drivers who weren’t aiming for Masters class honours.
Eagle Sports’ Nobuhiro Imada won the Masters class in fourth place with an early pass on Rn-sports’ Masayuki Ueda, who then stuck to his gearbox for most of the race.
Takahashi couldn’t repeat his win in race two, with Nemoto overtaking him early on as Takahashi’s car was inflicted by technical issues. He was still able to run in second place though, and only finished just over two seconds short of Nemoto after 18 trying laps.
Furutani came very close to beating Takahashi but couldn’t find a way past, while Ueda beat B-MAX Racing boss DRAGON to Masters class victory.
Takahashi struck back in the final race of the weekend to beat Nemoto to victory, while a very distant third place for Furutani means Takahashi now has a 27-point lead over the Zap Speed driver after six races.
Round one dominator Sena Sakaguchi, who is being linked to a race seat in Super Formula, is down to third in the standings after missing Sugo, and Nemoto is in fourth in the points as he missed the Fuji Speedway round.
Sakaguchi’s Sutekina Racing Team team-mate Yu Kanamaru sits fifth in the championship after also skipping Sugo, and is level on points with Imada after he took another Masters class win in the final race.
Race 1 (18 laps)
1 Tomoki Takahashi Super Licence 23m49.431s
2 Yuga Furutani TOM’S +11.216s
3 Yuki Nemoto Zap Speed +17.239s
4 Nobuhiro Imada Eagle Sports +38.175s
5 Masayuki Ueda Rn-sports +38.529s
6 DRAGON B-MAX Racing +40.317s
7 Syuji B-MAX Racing +1m01.208s
Pole: Takahashi, 1m17.165s
Fastest lap: Takahashi, 1m18.554s
Race 2 (18 laps)
1 Nemoto 23m52.958s
2 Takahashi +2.291s
3 Furutani +2.746s
4 Ueda +27.467s
5 DRAGON +31.803s
6 Imada +33.451s
7 Syuji +56.788s
P: Takahashi, 1m16.744s
FL: Furutani, 1m18.534s
Race 3 (22 laps)
2 Nemoto +5.265s
3 Furutani +19.330s
4 Imada +29.456s
5 DRAGON +35.526s
6 Ueda +37.779s
7 Syuji +1m10.936s
P: Takahashi, 1m16.792s
FL: Takahashi, 1m18.888s
1 Takahashi 109 2 Furutani 82 3 Sena Sakaguchi 75 4 Nemoto 58 5 Yu Kanamaru 45 6 Imada 45 7 Takuro Shinohara 43 8 DRAGON 38 9 Ueda 38 10 Ryohei Sakaguchi 26