Sekiguchi fi­nally gets off the mark



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

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