Round 6

Liam Lawson Takes his Third Win of the Season. Honda 1-2 Finish with Tadasuke Makino in Second Place

jp Fuji Speedway

The 6th round of the 2023 Super Formula series was held at Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Pref.) on July 15 (Sat) and 16 (Sun), 2023.

Liam Lawson Takes his Third Win of the Season. Honda 1-2 Finish with Tadasuke Makino in Second Place

#53 Toshiki Oyu (TGM Grand Prix) had to skip this race due to the collarbone fracture incurred during his training, and Hiroki Otsu was appointed as a substitute driver. A total of 11 drivers of 6 teams using Honda/M-TEC engine participated in the race as follows; #1 Tomoki Nojiri, #15 Liam Lawson (TEAM MUGEN), #5 Tadasuke Makino, #6 Kakunoshin Ohta (DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING), #12 Nirei Fukuzumi (ThreeBond Racing), #50 Nobuharu Matsushita, #51 Raoul Hyman (B-Max Racing Team), #53 Hiroki Otsu, #55 Cem Bolukbasi (TGM Grand Prix), #64 Naoki Yamamoto, #65 Ren Sato (TCS NAKAJIMA RACING).

Fuji Speedway on the qualifying day saw the sky overcast with thin clouds and the ambient temperature marked 25℃ with the same of the track surface up to 29℃. Qualifying sessions started at 2:20 p.m. from Q1 A-group in relatively easy-to-spend climate.

In the 10-minute session for Q1 A-group, five drivers using Honda/M-TEC engine among the total eleven runners made a clean sweep of the top five times and went through to Q2. A similar feats was seen in Q1 B-group run by same eleven drivers, in which the first, second and fourth fastest times were marked by Honda/M-TEC users, hence eight of them made way to Q2 that is fought by a total of twelve drivers.

The result of Q2: Makino (#5 DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING) duly seized the pole position immediately followed by Lawson (#15 TEAM MUGEN), Ohta (#6 DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING) and then Sato (#65 TCS NAKAJIMA RACING), achieving the monopoly of Honda school in the first two lows of the starting grid.

Contrary to the weather forecast predicting fierce heat, the Sunday sky was still covered by veil-like clouds, with ambient temperature stayed at 25℃ and track surface at 31℃, and in the conditions almost the same as yesterday, the race was started at 2:30 p.m. Pole sitter, Makino, maintained his position into Turn-1 with Lawson following tightly behind, but Ohta delayed from 3rd grid losing a few positions while Yamamoto (#64 TCS NAKAJIMA RACING) launching from 6th grid jumped up to 3rd followed by his team mate, Sato at the tale of “Honda Flight” leading the race yet to settle the opening hype.

After Lap-10 when the first tire stop was derestricted, Sato running 3rd and #37 Ritomo Miyata, 5th, immediately came in among the leading bunch, while Lawson watching this out the corners of his eyes did the same on the next lap. A lap later, Makino, the race leader, followed suit at the end of Lap-12.

Makino returned the track with his nominal top position kept in tact, however, Lawson was closing in on quickly helped by a fresh set of tires now warmed up enough after the full out-lap run. Makino was tailed right behind at the Coca-Cola corner and simply aced by Lawson at the exit, which he could shift the blame onto his tires being still cold. Makino tried his best to pursuit Lawson only to see the gap further widened little by little.

Sato running virtual 3rd until the halfway point surrendered his position to Miyata on Lap-30. In the meantime, Lawson firmly secured the leading slot and was even pulling away from Makino. The gap between the top two expanded 4.453 sec. as Lawson finished the 41-lap race, winning his third in the season, and Makino finished in 2nd which is his personal best so far in the category.

At the end of the day, Lawson accumulated his championship point up to 85 (adding up 22-point including extra 2-point for the qualifying result) placing himself to the runner-up position only a point behind Miyata, the current point leader. Nojiri having a total of 61-point hung on 3rd in the point ranking.

The next race, the 7th round of the series, will be held on August 19 (Sat) - 20 (Sun) at Mobility Resort Motegi (Tochigi Pref.)

Liam Lawson
Liam Lawson 15
Wonderful race, indeed. We’d anticipated hot weather in the weekend and prepared our car for it, however, the temperature was low both for ambient and track surface, and it’s very humid too. So, we reset the car to meet such conditions and it worked quite well. I think the pit stop timing was the decisive factor and I could win thanks to the excellent pit work. I’d been told from the team that other cars get wheel-lock prone when braking on the out lap. So, I drove very carefully right after I got out of the pit. I’m really thankful for the support from my team. If I think about the championship, the next three races would be extremely important. Especially the next one held at Mobility Resort Motegi where I’ve never run before. I think I’m gonna study the track by watching on-board footages and do other preparatory works as much as possible.

Tadasuke Makino
Tadasuke Makino 5
It was a regrettable race at all in the end. The timing of the pit stop divided win and lose, I think. Our estimation was like this. Liam was waiting Ritomo (Miyata) coming in for new tires and follow suit next lap around. I myself plotted to stop at the same time regardless of Liam’s plan, however, I eventually stopped on a lap after Liam, and that became the turning point. Nevertheless, Liam’s pace was way faster and mine was not enough, to say the truth. But not everything was negative, I mean, there’re many positive aspects for this time. I got pole position at Fuji and finished 2nd although I lost the race against Liam. I’m sure both me and my teams could make a step ahead. I’d really like to further keep up with this momentum to the next round and beyond.

Published on