Home News Toyota junior Nonaka on top in SF Lights’ season opener at Autopolis

Toyota junior Nonaka on top in SF Lights’ season opener at Autopolis

by Ida Wood

Photo: Super Formula Lights

The Super Formula Lights season got off to a delayed start at Autopolis this weekend, and Seita Nonaka emerged as the points leader after the first three races.

There were four practice sesions, and Yuga Furutani was fastest by just 0.01 seconds over Honda junior Syun Koide, with Toyota junior Jin Nakamura 0.094s behind in third and 0.167s covering the top five.

Rising to the fore in qualifying was Rikuto Kobayashi, who set a 1m37.276s in Q1 to take pole by 0.107s over fellow Toyota junior Nonaka. Rin Arakawa was a further 0.013s behind in third, and Furutani was 0.137s off top spot in fourth. Koide, Souta Arao and Nakamura were also within a third of a second of Kobayashi.

Koide lowered the pace to 1m37.060s in Q2 to earn race two pole, beating Kobayashi by 0.131s, Nakamura by 0.365s and Furutani by 0.442s.

Kobayashi stalled on race one’s formation lap but was able to take up his place at the front for the actual start, where again he was slow off the line but led into turn one as Arao stalled and fell to the back.

Nonaka challenged Kobayashi through lap one until the safety car appeared due to Nakamura crashing heavily at turn three. Arakawa and Furutani also went off there but rejoined, with Furutani dropping to eighth.

Racing resumed on lap three and Nonaka dived down Kobayashi’s inside at the turn 11 hairpin to take the lead. He was 0.873s clear by the end of the lap, and finished the 21-lap race 7.272s ahead of Kobayashi.

Arakawa was a further 2.381s behind in third, and Kaylen Frederick resisted race-long pressure from Koide for fourth. Furutani got back up to sixth on the restart lap and Arao recovered to seventh on lap five, then they spent the remaining laps in the queue behind Frederick.

Furutani had a turn three off on lap nine when attempting to pass Koide, but it cost him nothing.

Koide took a lights-to-flag win in race two, while Kobayashi finished eight after a startline problem where he initially got away but then stopped and fell to the back. Everyone else had to avoid his car, and Nonaka went sixth from sixth to second before turn one while Frederick jumped from eighth to fourth.

Nakamura passed Nonaka into turn one on lap seven of 14, as Frederick resisted race-long pressure from Furutani for fourth. Kobayashi recovered to eighth, and there was a mid-race safety car period caused by Yasuhiro Shimizu spinning into the gravel at the penultimate corner that wiped out Koide’s five-second lead.

Nonaka started on pole for race three, and converted it into a dominant victory. Frederick started fourth but was second by turn three on lap one, and spent the rest of the race fending off Kobayashi’s attacks.

Furutani and Arakawa ended up in queue behind them, and Koide too until he succumbed to a turn one dummy move by Nakamura on lap 11 after defending his sixth place for many laps.

Results round-up
Race 1 (21 laps)
1 Seita Nonaka TOM’S 36m46.685s
2 Rikuto Kobayashi TOM’S +7.272s
3 Rin Arakawa B-MAX Racing +9.653s
4 Kaylen Frederick B-MAX Racing +20.090s
5 Syun Koide B-MAX Racing +20.548s
6 Yuga Furutani TOM’S +21.709s
7 Souta Arao Toda Racing +22.791s
8 Nobuhiro Imada B-MAX Racing +51.329s
9 “Dragon” B-MAX Racing +1m25.238s
10 Yasuhiro Shimizu B-MAX Racing +1m34.516s
Pole: Kobayashi, 1m37.276s
Fastest lap: Nonaka, 1m39.281s

Race 2 (14 laps)
1 Koide 25m43.349s
2 Jin Nakamura TOM’S +0.551s
3 Nonaka +2.876s
4 Frederick +4.695s
5 Furutani +5.263s
6 Arakawa +6.026s
7 Arao +7.343s
8 Kobayashi +8.196s
9 Imada +10.940s
10 “Dragon” +11.836s
P: Koide, 1m37.060s
FL: Koide, 1m38.260s

Race 3 (14 laps)
1 Nonaka 23m35.388s
2 Frederick +10.708s
3 Kobayashi +11.244s
4 Furutani +12.814s
5 Arakawa +13.730s
6 Nakamura +14.260s
7 Koide +17.935s
8 Arao +18.997s
9 Imada +33.211s
10 “Dragon” +34.710s
FL: Nonaka, 1m40.044s

Championship standings
1 Nonaka 25   2 Koide 13   3 Kobayashi 13   4 Frederick 13   5 Nakamura 8   6 Arakawa 8   7 Furutani 6   8 Arao 0   9 Imada 0   10 “Dragon” 0