Round 2

Makino takes his first win in Super Formula and Iwasa does his first podium. Honda achieves 1-2 finish


May 18 (Sat) - 19 (Sun) ―― The second round of the 2024 SUPER FORMULA series was held at Autopolis International Race Course (Oita Pref.) after a two-month interval from the opening round held at Suzuka Circuit.

Makino takes his first win in Super Formula and Iwasa does his first podium. Honda achieves 1-2 finish

A total of 10 drivers of 6 teams using Honda/M-TEC engine participated in the race as per follows: Tadasuke Makino #5, Kakunoshin Ohta #6 (DOCOMO TEAM DANDELION RACING), Atsushi Miyake #12 (ThreeBond Racing), Ayumu Iwasa #15, Tomoki Nojiri #16 (TEAM MUGEN), Iori Kimura #50 (San-Ei Gen with B-Max), Juju #53, Nobuharu Matsushita #55 (TGM Grand Prix), Naoki Yamamoto #64, Ren Sato #65 (PONOS NAKAJIMA RACING).

Autopolis located at the mid-slope of Aso North Somma was blessed with fine weather all weekend. On 18 (Sat), while the temperatures both ambient and road-surface were climbing up in the afternoon, the official qualifying sessions duly took place. Q1 was divided into two sessions, 10 cars of Group-A and 11 for Group-B, and 5 out of 10 Honda/M-TEC engine users surpassed the cutoff time eligible to Q2. 5 Honda-powered cars proceeded into the final time attack fought by the best 12 cars among the total 21 entrants. The results was: #15 Iwasa putting up a prodigious drive marked the top time that was 0.338 sec. faster than the runner up driver, and in doing so, achieved his first ever pole position only on his second run in the series. With #5 Makino and #64 Yamamoto marked the 2nd and 3rd fastest laps respectively, the 1-2-3 starting grid monopoly was made by the Honda/M-TEC engine users.

On 19 (Sun), the sky was clear yet again at Autopolis, and as the moderate gale continued from the day before, ambient/road surface temperature climbed up towards the afternoon. At 2:50 p.m., when the start signal was given, #15 Iwasa launching from the pole position momentarily spun his rear wheels and that much lost the accelerating thrust. #5 Makino dashed from 2nd grid immediately got side-by-side from outside, and pulled away into Turn-1. #15 Iwasa was then beaten even by #64 Yamamoto who had left 3rd grid and thus doomed to play a tiring catch-up game all in the afternoon.

#5 Makino running at the top soon began pulling ahead from #64 Yamamoto who, at his own quarter, came under the threat from #15 Iwasa pushing hard with OTS (OverTake System). Nevertheless, #15 Iwasa lacking in one final stretch at the straight had hard time to complete the passing maneuver in the corner.

When the minimum 10-laps before the tire change were cleared, #64 Yamamoto took the initiative of pit stop while #5 Makino kept on running at the forefront, and #15 Iwasa and #16 Nojiri, now 2nd and 3rd albeit apparently, began to push hard in the hope to get ahead of #64 Yamamoto.

On Lap-22, #16 Nojiri came in and returned with fresh tires only to find #64 Yamamoto still running in front. Then on Lap-24, the race leader, #5 Makino and #15 Iwasa were pitted one after another. #5 Makino now on fresh tires joined the track a fraction before #64 Yamamoto came, and managed to maintain the virtual top position. On the other hand, #15 Iwasa, allowing #64 Yamamoto and #6 Ohta who had earlier changed tires to get ahead, dropped down to 4th.

#5 Makino running on the cold tires narrowly curbed the attack from #64 Yamamoto, and when tires got warmed enough, began pulling away again lap after lap. #15 Iwasa who was dropping down to 4th for a while decisively closed in on #6 Ohta at Turn-2 & 3 on Lap-26, and overtook it in a swift move. #15 car keeping the momentum in tact, quickly got near to #64 Yamamoto, pressed hard from outside and passed at Turn-1 on Lap-34 to resume the 2nd position.

In the mean time, #5 Makino was leading the race some 5-sec. ahead of #15 Iwasa, serenely completed the rest of the 41-lap race, and finally achieved the maiden victory at his 6th season in the category. #15 Iwasa came in 2nd which was his first podium finish achieved only at his 2nd trial since he made debut to the domestic championship, making up the 1-2 finish by Honda/M-TEC engine users. #64 Yamamoto finished 4th, #6 Ohta 5th and #16 Nojiri 9th taking each share of points.

At the end of the day, #5 Makino accumulating 23-points sat on the top of the point ranking, #16 Nojiri secured 2nd slot with 22-points, #64 Yamamoto and #15 Iwasa came in joint 3rd with 20-points each, demonstrating the dominance of Honda M/TEC engine for the time being. The next race, the 3rd round of the 2024 SUPER FORMULA series will take place at Sportsland SUGO (Miyagi Pref.) on June 22 (Sat) - 23 (Sun).

Tadasuke Makino
Tadasuke Makino 5
While my team mates won races one after another, I’ve long been let go from the victory, and naturally got frustrated and depressed rather deeply. So now, I just feel like I’m in heaven that I could finally achieve my first win. Something snapped inside me when I crossed the line, and I was burst into tears. Much to my embarrassment, I had no way  to stop, nor even soothe it.
I knew I was in good shape right from the free practice in the morning. My pace was good and constant and that brought me a confidence. In the race, I was given informations from the pit, mainly about Naoki-san (Yamamoto) who was running right behind, including the gap between us and so on. I think I controlled the race with my head kept cool all through to the end. My team did superb job in the pit stop so that I could retain top position when I returned the track. Otherwise, I mean, if Naoki-san got ahead of me at that point, the outcome of the race would be totally different. Autopolis is known as the track where tires can be heated up quickly. So, I was thinking, as long as I can defend Turn-1 and hold on two more turns, the race would be mine.

Ayumu Iwasa
Ayumu Iwasa 15
It’s my first podium finish and I got some points. Still, I’m hugely frustrated because I screwed the hard-earned pole position and slipped down to 2nd. Got wheel spin at the start, just a little bit, but that’s it. After the tire change, we’re supposed to maintain our position albeit just barely. But it was not the case. My pace on fresh tires was better and I could have passed Yamamoto-san if things went my way. But in reality, I wasn’t fast enough to overtake him even with OTS. I’ve been learning how to use OTS and the tire management opt for overtaking all afternoon, and finally I succeeded to get ahead. I think I need to find out the reason why I’d delayed at the start in the first place. I’ll look into the data at hand, and make best use of the findings to win next time at Sugo.

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