Home Formula 4Japanese F4 Yuki Tsunoda becomes first Honda-backed Japanese F4 champion

Yuki Tsunoda becomes first Honda-backed Japanese F4 champion

by Elliot Wood

Photo: F4 Japanese

Honda Formula Dream Project driver Yuki Tsunoda became the first Honda protege to win the Japanese Formula 4 title in the final race at Motegi.

Tsunoda could only be denied the title by team-mate Teppei Natori, who took pole for both races on a damp track.

The circuit had dried in time for the first race, and Tsunoda initially struggled from fourth place. As the race went on he got faster though, moving into second and closing down on his team-mate. Once past the pair remained close, with Tsunoda’s eventual victory margin coming to 1.218 seconds. He extended his championship lead, but it wasn’t enough to secure the title.

Le Beausset Motorsport’s Shota Ogura took his first ever podium in third, with double Autopolis winner Togo Suganami finishing fourth and Ogura’s team-mate Kohta Kawaai completing the top five. TOM’S driver Kazuto Kotaka had just beaten Ogura to the podium, but received a 30 second penalty, which dropped him to 21st place.

Ogura received the bad luck the second time around, breaking his driveshaft on the formation lap. Tsunoda couldn’t make it past his team-mate this time, and any chance of an eighth victory of the season went out of the window with a late race safety car. He could at least celebrate winning the title, with a 14 point margin over Natori.

Kotaka made up for his race one penalty by finishing third, and taking a clear third in the standings. Suganami was fourth again, while Bionic Jack Racing’s Mizuki Ishizaka beat Kawaai to fifth. Rn-sports’ Masayuki Ueda took the Indepents Cup with 22nd and 23rd place finishes.

Results round-up
Race 1 (12 laps)
1 Yuki Tsunoda HFDP 23m50.867s
2 Teppei Natori HFDP +1.218s
3 Shota Ogura Le Beausset Motorsports +7.936s
4 Togo Suganami OTG +8.986s
5 Kohta Kawaai Le Beausset Motorsports +10.954s
6 Takuya Otaki HFDP +12.839s
7 Ren Sato HFDP +13.264s
8 Sota Ogawa TOM’S +13.340s
9?Mizuki Ishizaka Bionic Jack Racing +13.890s
10?Shinji Sawada Media Do Kageyama Racing +14.912s
Pole: Natori, 2m09.404s
Fastest lap: Tsunoda, 1m58.105s

Race 2 (11 laps)
1 Natori 24m31.846s
2 Tsunoda +2.831s
3 Kazuto Kotaka TOM’S +3.947s
4 Suganami +4.803s
5 Ishizaka +6.462s
6 Kawaai +7.184s
7 Sato +8.818s
8 Yuko Tamaki OTG +9.633s
9 Sawada +10.490s
10 Takeshi Ohi Skill Speed +12.025s
P: Natori, 2m09.507s
FL: Kotaka, 1m58.121s

Championship standings
1 Tsunoda 245? ?2 Natori 231? ?3 Kotaka 188? ?4 Kawaai 135? ?5 Suganami 119? ?6 Sawada 64? ?7 Sato 58? ?8 Otaki 57? ?9 Ogawa 55? ?10 Ishizaka 49