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Luck is not on my side in the Fuji Super Formula

Starting from seventh on the grid, Impul missed Toyota driver Hirakawa a podium spot on Sunday when Tomoki Nojiri, Toshiki Oyu and Nirei Fukuzumi took the first three places.

Nojiri and Hirakawa both left their pit stops late into the 41-lap race, and when it started raining about 10 laps to go, the pair appeared to be in the best position to take advantage of the deteriorating conditions.

However, it never rained hard enough to warrant using wet tires and Hirakawa ended up doing three laps on another set of slicks and falling behind Oyu and Fukuzumi.

“I’ve been waiting for the rain,” Hirakawa told Motorsport.com. “While I was driving I thought it was going to rain quite a bit, but the team told me it didn’t rain that much, so it was confusing.

“The strategy was pretty good. We could have boxed a lap later, but the reason we didn’t do it was [Sho] Tsuboi’s accident and we thought there might have been a safety car, but nothing happened. Luck wasn’t on my side, but the team did a good job. “

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Hirakawa lost ground on the first lap when he struck a blow at Turn 3 behind Yuhi Sekiguchi’s sick sister Impul car, who suffered a puncture due to contact with Hiroki Otsu in the first corner.

He was able to overtake Sena Sakaguchi and Tsuboi’s in-going cars and KCMG man Yuji Kunimoto in a short space of time to get into the top 5, but had to follow Ukyo Sasahara’s fourth-placed dandelion car until the pit-stop phase began .

“It was okay against the Toyota drivers because I could happen [Sena] Sakaguchi and Tsuboi were pretty easy, but it was impossible against the Hondas, “lamented Hirakawa.” I just had to stay behind them.

“The pace wasn’t too bad, but I had no choice but to follow them. Sasahara had a slow pit stop, otherwise it would have been P5.”

Hirakawa said he was also unhappy with the reluctance of some lapped cars to move in the closing stages of the race as he got into Nojiri’s lead.

“Nobody got blue flags at first, so I complained about the team and the team contacted the stewards,” he said. “Eventually they started waving to them, but it seemed like most of the drivers ignored them.

“I think I lost five or six seconds. Especially when I was behind Tatiana [Calderon] and the track was pretty wet and I could have gained time on Oyu and Fukuzumi, but I couldn’t do anything. “

Hirakawa remains confident of scoring another title offer this season after his near miss last year, but admits the Honda contingent – including defending champion Naoki Yamamoto, who moved up from 16th on the grid to sixth on Sunday recovered – will be hard to beat.

“Naoki will be strong in Suzuka,” he said. “It will be tough against him, Oyu, Fukuzumi and even Nojiri. They are the same people who were strong at the end of last year. All of these guys can win.”

“I hope the gap is smaller [at Suzuka]. I’ll just focus on my own things, my driving and my setup. “

Ryo Hirakawa (Carenex TEAM IMPUL)

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

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