De Oliveira steals victory from Kazuki Nakajima at Fuji Speedway
Joao Paulo Lima de Oliveira (Itochu Enex Team Impul) scores his first season’s victory in the Japanese Super Formula today at Fuji Speedway. The Brazilian driver is the winner of the third championship round after a thrilling finish against Kazuki Nakajima (Vantelin Kowa TOM’s). Nakajima led for most of the race but De Oliveira stole the lead on lap 51 and took the chequered flag after 55 laps with 2.836sec gap over Japanese driver. The third driver on the podium was De Oliveira’s teammate Yuhi Sekiguchi.
After rainy conditions in qualifying, in which Stoffel Vandoorne take his first Super Formula pole position, the race started on dry track. Vandoorne and Hiroaki Ishiura, who started from the front row, both made a mistakes in the first corner, so De Oliveira jumped into the lead from third starting position.
Kazuki Nakajima had a great start from the sixth position and he was behind the Brazilian until the lap 5, when De Oliveira made a mistake and Nakajima took the lead. Two Honda drivers Bertrand Baguette and Stoffel Vandoorne were on the third and fourth place.
On lap 15, the Safety Car came out after Yuji Kunimoto spun and stopped in the middle of the course. At the restart on lap 19, De Oliveira tried to overtake Nakajima, but his attempt failed and leading positions remained unchanged.
On lap 46, both Sekiguchi and Andre Lotterer overtook the Honda’s duo Vandoorne and Baguette. Shortly after that, in a period of five laps Honda lost both of their best cars. On lap 47, Vandoorne lost control while braking, he spun and finished the race in the gravel. On lap 52, Baguette pitted and retired because of engine failure.
On lap 51, De Oliveira made a decisive attack in the first corner and overtook the lead from Nakajima. For De Oliveira, it was the second in a row victory at Fuji Speedway and first victory this season, after two races without points at Suzuka and Okayama.