Liam Lawson has finished second in the 2023 Super Formula Championship after finishing as runner-up in Sunday evening’s race at Suzuka.
Third place sees Ritomo Miyata claim a hard-earned championship title, finishing 8 points ahead of Lawson and not failing to finish any of 2023’s nine races outside the top five, taking six podiums, including two victories, along the way.
Lawson’s Team Mugen teammate Tomoki Nojiri finished fourth and dropped just half a point behind his teammate in the standings.
The three-way title fight had been the talk of the town entering the weekend. However, this was of no concern to Kakunoshin Ohta, who controlled proceedings for a well-deserved race win, becoming the only other winner outside the championship top three this season.
Having started alongside Lawson on the front row, Ohta got the better launch and led into Turn 1, a position he would hold and control for the 31-lap entirety, only briefly relinquishing it in the pit window.
Post-race, Lawson admitted he wasn’t happy with his start, but he was able to keep both Miyata and Nojiri at bay.
Miyata was the faster of the second-row starters, and he slotted in between the two Team Mugen drivers entering Turn 2.
Ohta’s lead grew over the opening lap and sat at 1.3 seconds by the end of the first circuit. Lawson had also pulled over a second clear of Miyata, who in turn had put distance between himself and Nojiri.
Those four continued to put time on the field over the opening exchanges, with Miyata the first to come in for his compulsory pit stop on Lap 12.
Lawson covered his rival’s stop a lap later, emerging ahead but on colder tyres, forcing him to keep the championship leader at bay in a thrilling duel before he was able to pull clear and hold the position.
Ohta and Nojiri remained out for several more laps, running first and second, and it was the leader who came in next. He returned to the track ahead of Lawson, where he would remain.
Nojiri remained out, banking on a Safety Car that would never come. His stop came on Lap 23 and dropped him to fifth, some 15 seconds behind the lead trio.
He would regain some of this ground to finish fourth, securing third in the championship standings, 0.5 points behind his teammate.