Hibiki Taira claimed a second triple win in a row in Japanese Formula 4 at Twin Ring Motegi.
Two safety car interruptions prevented an easy run from pole in race one, but Toyota junior Taira was helped by continued squabbling for position behind.
At first it was for second place, with Reimei Ito passing Reiji Hiraki after the latter tried going for the lead. Hiraki reclaimed second on the opening lap, and pulled away with Taira as Ito fell into a multi-car battle for third.
That fight didn’t begin until way into the race’s second half, with two safety car periods punctuating the action before then. When racing did resume, Ito was spun around at the final corner.
Sota Ogawa and Seita Nonaka ended up disputing third into Turn 1 and Nonaka got it done, although Ryunosuke Sawa jumped both in one corner later around the lap before Nonaka got back past.
A six-car fight then emerged for fifth, although that too was reduced by a driver being spun and one of Taira’s team-mates skating off. In the end Nonaka completed the podium, ahead of Sawa and Ogawa.
Kakunoshin Ohta finished sixth, just ahead of Seiya Jin and Yuga Furutani, with Ito recovering to ninth.
A slow start from the front row by Hiraki in race two eased Taira’s path to another win, this time with Ogawa finishing second.
Hiraki dropped to fourth on lap one after being passed by Sawa, and it wasn’t until lap 11 of 13 that he got back past. That overtake allowed Jin to slip inside both, and he then defended hard to keep third. His defence was deemed unsafe, with a 40-second penalty being applied post-race and dropping him to 28th.
Hiraki and Sawa therefore ended up third and fourth, with Zap Speed’s Rin Arakawa snatching fifth from Toyota junior Nonaka and Ito.
Taira led from the front again in race three, while another slow start for Hiraki meant another second place for Ogawa.
Sawa was third, Nonaka and Hiraki passed Ito late on to finish fourth and fifth – just keeping Hiraki in title contention – and Jin held off Ohta and Jiei Okuzumi for seventh.
Race 1 (13 laps)
1 Hibiki Taira TGR-DC RS 29m46.340s
2 Reiji Hiraki Helm Motorsports +0.513s
3 Seita Nonaka TGR-DC RS +3.933s
4 Ryunosuke Sawa Bionic Jack Racing +4.634s
5 Sota Ogawa Skill Speed +5.769s
6 Kakunoshin Ohta Vegaplus +8.274s
7 Seiya Jin ATEAM Buzz Motorsport +9.570s
8 Yuga Furutani TOM’S +9.949s
9 Reimei Ito OTG Motor Sports +11.413s
10 Eijirou Shimizu TGR-DC RS +13.010s
Pole: Taira, 1m57.649s
Fastest lap: Taira, 1m58.044s
Race 2 (13 laps)
1 Taira 27m11.634s
2 Ogawa +0.685s
3 Hiraki +7.030s
4 Sawa +8.540s
5 Rin Arakawa Zap Speed +9.646s
6 Nonaka +10.192s
7 Ito +10.699s
8 Syun Koide Vegaplus +12.657s
9 Ohta +12.722s
10 Jiei Okuzumi TGR-DC RS +12.960s
Pole: Taira, 1m57.740s
Fastest lap: Jin, 1m58.182s
Race 3 (13 laps)
1 Taira 28m34.322s
2 Ogawa +1.087s
3 Sawa +3.809s
4 Nonaka +6.528s
5 Hiraki +6.970s
6 Ito +9.218s
7 Jin +12.038s
8 Ohta +13.014s
9 Okuzumi +13.267s
10 Yugo Iwasawa Rn-sports +13.981s
FL: Taira, 1m58.492s
1 Taira 202.5 2 Hiraki 129.5 3 Nonaka 107 4 Ogawa 78 5 Ito 62 6 Sawa 59 7 Arakawa 51 8 Jin 49 9 Ohta 48 10 Seiya Motojima 14