On September 19th, the opening round of the SUZUKA e-Sports Challenge Race (commonly known as SeCR) hosted by Racing Hero Co., Ltd. was held, and two classes, Challenge Class and Professional Class, were held. Hiroki Ishino (VERSUS e-motorsports team) and #465 Sota Mutoh (Bigholiday eSports Team with 465garage) won the opening round in the Professional Class.
▽Rd.1 at Dallala P217
In the series, the cars used in the race were announced one week before the start, and the Dallala P217 (LMP2), which is mainly used in endurance races, was selected for the opening round. Expectations were high for a high-speed battle at Suzuka Circuit, which has a high level of downforce and many medium- and high-speed corners.
▽ 13-year-old Ishino wins pole position in Challenge Class
In the Challenge Class held prior to the Pro Series, a total of 15 cars entered. In qualifying, young 13-year-old #8 Hiroki Ishino (VERSUS e-motorsports team) took pole position with a time of 1:46:656. Rui Kozai was 0.1 seconds behind, and Kazuma Kurosawa was 2nd and 3rd, respectively, with a difference of 0.2 seconds. Kozai is 18 years old and Kurosawa is 15 years old. Young drivers in their teens made it into the top 3 qualifying rounds.
Wheelchair driver Hirokazu Nagaya participated as a guest driver in this challenge series. He returned to racing as a driver for the first time since 2002 and entered the race starting 15th.
The 30-minute race got off to a smooth start, but #72 Ikuma Kawato (ZENKAIRACING e-Sports Team) ran off the track at Degner. From the start of the hairpin, a fierce battle unfolded on the west straight between #78 Takashi Ito (ZENKAIRACING e-Sports Team), #28 Atsushi Kaneda (My Back Pain racing), and #390 Shouta Tsujino. After the opening lap, Ishino ran in the lead, and after a gap of about one second, Kozai, Kurosawa, and #204 Yusuke Notake (Pista) formed the top group at even intervals. In the back, Nagaya moved up to 12th while he spun alone and had minor contact.
In contrast to the top group, which showed a calm development, the battle for 6th place showed an even closer battle, and in the middle stage, Kaneda passed Ito on the home straight and moved up to 6th place. With less than 5 minutes remaining, #41 Satoshi Yamaguchi retired due to throttle trouble. It was the only retirement in this race.
In the final stages of the race, Ishino, who had maintained a steady lead, slowed down, and Kosai, who was in 2nd, was closing in on him, but was unable to overtake him.
Comment from Challenge Class winner Hiroki Ishino (VERSUS e-motorsports team)
The tires were tough in the final stages, but I’m glad we were able to win. It’s frustrating because we were almost able to get a perfect victory. I want to do my best in the next race and win the title.
Challenge Class Official Results
Challenge Class Point Ranking
Challenge Class shooting image
▽ Pro Class where 465 Garage showed overwhelming strength in intense qualifying where 14 cars entered within 1 second
Next, the main Pro Class was held. A high-level battle unfolded from the qualifying round, and #465 Sota Mutoh (Bigholiday eSports Team with 465garage), the winning candidate, took pole position with a time of 1:45:572. #466 Yuta Saito (Bigholiday eSports Team with 465garage) entered the race by a close margin, sharing the front row with the same team.
Many top drivers who participate in actual races participate in the Professional Class. F2 driver #4 Ayumu Iwasa (LAPS), who was suddenly confirmed to participate on the day of the race, took 3rd place on the grid, the top among real drivers. #5 Shun Koide (Bigholiday eSports Team with 465garage)
was 6th and #77 Yusuke Tomibayashi (ZENKAIRACING eSports Team) was 9th.
Accidents occurred one after another from the start of the race. Due to the confusion at the start, #79 Mamoru Okada (ZENKAIRACING eSports Team) spun in front of the start line, and Tomibayashi was also blown away at the first corner, and ZENKAI RACING eSports Team lost the right to win in the early stages. There was also some overtaking in front of the start line, but #465 Mutoh got the holeshot in front of him, just as he did in qualifying. #466 Saito followed by #4 Iwasa, and #4 Iwasa passed #466 Saito at the chicane from 130R. Taking advantage of the chaos, #43 Kazuki Omishima (Burst Esport) passed #466 Saito, who went off the course, and #465 Mutoh, #4 Iwasa, and #43 Omishima passed the opening lap with the top three cars.
At the end of the opening lap, #465 Mutoh built a 2-second gap over Iwasa in 2nd place, but #4 Iwasa and onwards progressed in a state of almost equal intervals. Kenta Yamashita, who is currently competing in the SUPER GT 500 class, can also be seen in the middle row, but he was unable to find the timing to attack and was forced into a difficult situation.
While the development continued calmly, the top #465 Mutoh and #4 Iwasa continued the race while maintaining a gap of around 2 seconds while #465 Mutoh controlled the gap with the following. Both of them set their fastest times during the race and pulled away from the following. Battles were taking place here and there in the middle section, but #71 Iori Kimura (ZENKAI RACING eSports Team) tried to overtake #62 Tomoki Hirose (BON RACING TEAM) as he dived into the chicane, but at the second approach. contact. Kimura was forced to drop in position due to a spin, and this was also a difficult development.
The race took a big turn with less than 23 minutes remaining, when #4 Iwasa made a pit stop and aimed to undercut #465 Mutoh. Iwasa pitted out without changing tires and returned in 21st place. On the next lap, #43 Omishima made a pit stop and pitted out in front of Iwasa to take the lead. The first ranking change occurred in the top group. Furthermore, on the next lap, #465 Mutoh and #466 Saito made a pit stop at the same time. Mutoh pitted out while maintaining the top lead, but surprisingly, Saito overtook Iwasa and Omishima at the pit stop and moved up to 2nd place at once. The two Bigholiday eSports Team with 465garage built a 1-2 system and entered the final stages of the race.
#465 Mutoh and #466 Saito continued to pull away from #43 Omishima while hitting the 45-second range, but the battle between #43 Omishima and #4 Iwasa continued to be tense until the final lap.
The race remained the same and the order remained unchanged, finishing in the top 3 of #465 Mutoh, #466 Saito, and #43 Saito. #465 Mutoh and #466 Saito succeeded in reversing their last-minute strategy of running out of fuel right after the goal.
ProClass official results
ProClass Point Ranking
Comment from winning driver Sota Mutoh
I prepared a lot for this race, so I’m relieved that I was able to get the result. I didn’t know what would happen under the same conditions with a one-make setup, so Iwasa was following me all the way through the race, making me nervous. I am very happy to have been able to win with the support of the team and sponsors since the car was announced. I want to do my best in the second match as well.
Rd.2 will be held on October 10th (Monday), the day after the F1 Japan Grand Prix. The model used is expected to be announced shortly before.