Suzuka Super Formula: Kunimoto takes title, Vandoorne wins final race
Inging's Yuji Kunimoto clinched the Super Formula crown at Suzuka in the 2016 season's final race, which was won by Mclaren protege Stoffel Vandoorne.
Kunimoto kicked off the season finale as the favourite to win the title, having established a 3.5 point lead over Yuhi Sekiguchi after winning Race 1.
With Sekiguchi only scoring half a point, Kunimoto’s sixth place in Race 2 proved enough to secure the title.
Story of the race
Vandoorne sprinted past pole-sitter Hiroaki Ishiura at the start of the race, demoting the Japanese driver into second.
Kunimoto also lost positions, dropping down to seventh on the run down to turn 1.
Meanwhile, several drivers - including Sekiguchi - pitted during the first three laps of the race, eager to get the mandatory stop out of the way.
However, the frontrunners remained undeterred, with Vandoorne and Ishiura staying out until the end of lap 16.
The strategy paid off as both drivers were able to keep their lead intact after exiting the pits.
Just as the order started to settle down, Naoki Yamamoto spun at the start/finish straight with a suspected mechanical problem, bringing out the safety car.
Kunimoto tried to gain advantage of the situation by making his sole pitstop but failed to move up the order.
Not long after the racing resumed, Takuya Izawa crashed on the back straight, necessitating another caution period.
When the safety car dived into the pits, Lotterer was quick to show his reaction, passing Ishiura to move up to second.
He then initiated a charge to dispatch Vandoorne from the lead, but the Belgian was able to defend his position to claim his second win of the season.
Outside the top three, Impul’s Joao Paulo de Oliveira was fourth ahead of Bertrand Baguette in the lead Nakajima entry.
Kunimoto finished sixth to win the title, while Kamui Kobayashi and Sekiguchi claimed the final points after making gains towards the latter part of the race.
Takashi Kogure and Daisuke Nakajima completed the Top 10.
|Po.||Driver||Car Name / Engine||Gap|
|4||J.P.de Oliveira||TEAM IMPUL||6.471|
|7||Kamui Kobayashi||TEAM LEMANS||14.096|
|8||Yuhi Sekiguchi||TEAM IMPUL||15.356|
|9||Takashi Kogure||DRAGO CORSE||18.353|
|14||Narain Karthikeyan||TEAM LEMANS||1'07.306|
|Ret||Naoki Yamamoto||TEAM MUGEN||-|
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