Another win puts Lawson in the lead of Super Formula
After spirited fight to fend of his rivals
Liam Lawson snatched the lead of the Japanese Super Formula championship with an impressive win in Autopolis, his second in just four races.
It was an outstanding drive after dropping to third from his front-row start, pitting the first of the front-runners for his compulsory tyre change and then fending off a chasing pack of drivers on newer rubber for victory.
“We knew we had a fast race car but we needed clear air. We boxed early and caught traffic, so I had to try and pass as quickly as I could without losing time, because I knew these two [Miyata, and poleman Tsuboi] would go longer in the race,” said Lawson.
A late Safety Car period put the pursuing pack on Lawson’s tailpipe at the restart but he bolted away and managed to hold them out to the chequered flag.
Although on much newer tyres Lawson knew if he could keep them behind their new tyre advantage would soon even out.
“It’s a very hard track to overtake on and I knew Tsuboi came out behind me and that I had to defend hard for three or four laps, and then it would settle.”
Lawson’s two wins equals the number his Team Mugen teammate Tomoki Nojiri scored last year to win the title. Unfortunately Nojiri was sidelined this weekend due to suffering a collapsed lung which forced the team to substitute their double champion with Honda reserve driver Hiroki Otsu.
The 21-year-old Red Bull Junior is delighted to take the championship lead off Nojiri but is full of praise that he turned up at Autopolis.
“It’s great for the championship obviously. The team did a fantastic job all weekend, the car was great. I have to give a big thanks to Nojiri san for sticking with us through the weekend and supporting us when he had his own situation to deal with and many drivers would not have been there.”
Lawson now leads the championship by four points over Ritomo Miyata with five races to go, while Team Mugen has lept into a healthy 37 point lead over Team TOM’S in the Teams standings.
The Super Formula championship now heads to Sugo next month with Lawson expected to be back on Red Bull Formula 1 reserve duties in Spain a fortnight earlier.
Lawson’s Super Formula campaign in Japan is supported by Rodin Cars, Giltrap Group, Turners, cumulo9, Porter Group and the Tony Quinn Foundation.
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Liam Lawson took his second win of the season at Autopolis. (Photo: Red Bull Content Pool)
Super Formula, Autopolis: 20-21 May, 2023
1. Sho Tsuboi (Inging) 1:26.187
2. Liam Lawson (Team Mugen) 1:26.361
3. Sena Sakaguchi (Inging) 1:26.474
4. Ritomo Miyata (TOM’S) 1:26.480
5. Nirei Fukuzumi (ThreeBond Racing) 1:26.508
6. Kenta Yamashita (Kondo Racing) 1:26.521
Race (41 laps) – Top 6
2. Miyata +1.255
3. Tsuboi +5.265
4. Yamashita +5.569
5. Ryo Hirakawa (Team Impul) +6.556
6. Tadasuke Makino (Dandelion Racing) +12.181
Super Formula Championship Drivers points (top 6)
1. Lawson 57
2. Miyata 53
3. Tsuboi 46
4. Nojiri 42
5. Hirakawa 28
6. Yamashita 25
Super Formula Championship Teams points (top 6)
1. Team Mugen 89
2. Team TOM’S 52
3. Inging 47
4. Kondo Racing 30
5. Team Impul 28
6. Nakajima Racing 21
Calendar 2023 – Super Formula, Japan
Rds 1/2: 08-09 April, Fuji
Rd 3: 22-23 April, Suzuka
Rd 4: 20-21 May, Autopolis
Rd 5: 17-18 June, Sportsland SUGO
Rd 6: 15-16 July, Fuji
Rd 7: 19-20 August, Motegi
Rds 8/9: 28-29 October, Suzuka