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Sekiguchi frustrated to lose rare win chance to loose wheel

Yuhi Sekiguchi has expressed his frustration at letting a rare chance of a Super Formula win slip through his fingers at Fuji Speedway due to a loose wheel.

Yuhi Sekiguchi, carenex TEAM IMPUL

Impul driver Sekiguchi appeared to be in a strong position to score his first victory in the championship since the 2019 Autopolis round as he made a strong start from pole, leading all the way until his mandatory pitstop on lap 25 of 40.

But the race was turned on its head when Sekiguchi spun exiting Turn 12 on his outlap owing to a loose left-rear wheel, triggering a safety car that shuffled the order and instead allowed Ukyo Sasahara to come through and snatch an unlikely win.

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Looking back on the race-defining incident, Sekiguchi admitted he had felt something “strange” on his outlap but said losing his wheel came as a shock.

“On the radio they said it was a problem with the hub at first, but then they said it was a problem with the nut,” he told media post-race. “But the person in charge [of fastening the nut] said he didn’t think anything was wrong. 

“From Turn 1 to ‘A corner’ [Turn 3] I could tell something was up. In 100R I had oversteer and exiting the hairpin towards B corner [Turn 10] something still felt strange, but I told myself, ‘it’s ok, it’s just your imagination’. 

“After that, when I turned, I spun. I didn’t think this would happen.”

Yuhi Sekiguchi, carenex TEAM IMPUL

Yuhi Sekiguchi, carenex TEAM IMPUL

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Having exited the pits clear of his main rival Tomoki Nojiri, Sekiguchi also had the advantage of being on fresher tyres for the final part of the race, as Nojiri had opted to stop when the pit window opened on lap 10 following an early safety car period.

Finding clear air, Mugen driver Nojiri appeared to be reducing Sekiguchi’s advantage but then lost time stuck behind Naoki Yamamoto, who resumed directly ahead after a drive-through penalty.

“It seems Nojiri pitted on lap 10 just after the safety car came in, and then he got stuck behind Yamamoto, but besides that he was able to run in clear air so it was tough for me,” said Sekiguchi. “But I am satisfied that I was able to give my best performance.

However, Sekiguchi admitted that satisfaction does not make up for what he regards as a rare chance to stand on the top step of the podium.

“Basically, Super Formula is a category where just about any driver can win, it’s common even for the winner of the last race not to make Q2,” he said. 

“So when the chance comes up to win you have to take it. In that sense, it’s frustrating.”

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