Sekiguchi finally gets off the mark
SUPER FORMULA OKAYAMA (J) SEPTEMBER 9 ROUND 6/7
Yuhi Sekiguchi notched up his first win of the Super Formula season at Okayama, besting the treacherous, stormy conditions to triumph in a shortened race.
The Team Impul driver showed his affinity with low-grip conditions by topping the qualifying session, although he only kept ex-formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi at bay by 0.02 seconds.
A safety car led the field away initially, but the rain failed to abate and on lap seven the race was red-flagged. Almost an hour later it was restarted, under safety-car conditions once again.
Another consequence of the delay was a decision to shorten the race by 20 minutes. Still, Kobayashi bided his time, waiting until lap 12 before attempting to leave his mark on the race. The KCMG star got away with light nose-to-tail contact through the hairpin and passed Sekiguchi’s similarly Toyota-powered car to take the lead.
Chasing down his maiden series victory, Kobayashi led the field until the safety car was called upon again. After a mistake in the first part of qualifying, Tom Dillmann had started at the back of the grid. In his attempt to climb the order he lost his front wing after colliding with Nirei Fukuzumi, causing the race to be neutralised.
Kobayashi was overly zealous at the restart and ran wide, again at Hair Pin, and Sekiguchi capitalised. Kobayashi was the faster of the pair and managed to close in, but yet another safety car was needed late in the race when Fukuzumi spun.
The clock duly counted down to zero and the result was called with Sekiguchi in first place ahead of Kobayashi. Team Impul scored a double podium thanks to Ryo Hirakawa in third.
The reduced race distance meant only half points were awarded, but that didn’t stop Nick Cassidy (fifth) extending his championship lead over Hiroaki Ishiura (seventh) to four points from three ahead of the double-race season finale at Suzuka.
Kobayashi lost victory to Sekiguchi (leading) after running wide