Japanese Super Formula Lights SUGO (Rounds 4-6): Igor Omura Fraga Claims First Series Win and Moves Up to 4th
Igor Fraga is the inaugural Gran Turismo World Series Nations Cup champion and a driver who continues to compete in real-life motorsport competitions around the world, including F3. This season, he has moved his focus to the Super GT300 class and Super Formula Lights series in Japan. This is a report of Fraga’s amazing first Super Formula Lights series victory at SUGO.
Igor Omura Fraga competed in Rounds 4, 5, and 6 of the Super Formula Lights (SFL) at Sportsland SUGO in the Miyagi prefecture on June 17 and 18 , winning the Round 6 race piloting the FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX machine.
While he has experience with tracks in the U.S., New Zealand, and Europe, the site of many FIA F3 Championship races, it was Fraga’s first time at Sportsland SUGO, the stage for this round of SFL races.
Initial testing at Sportsland SUGO
The team conducted a private test at Sportsland SUGO at the end of May to prepare the car and provide an opportunity for the drivers to practice. Fraga said about his first time on the track, "I wasn’t able to get a proper run during the test in dry conditions as we were a little unlucky with the weather. However, it’s a really fun track with a lot of rhythm in the corners and ups and downs.”
Once the race week commenced, inclement weather resulted in limited opportunities to practice on the track on Thursday and Friday. Some drivers decided to practice in the wet regardless, but Fraga made the decision not to test the car in bad weather.
"With the bad weather conditions, there were some risks, and I didn’t want to get into any bad habits, so I decided not to take the car out. On Thursday, I managed to get a few laps in on the dry track before it started to rain. I was also able to set some top class times in the test run, so I wanted to maintain that feeling."
On Saturday, June 17, the skies began to clear and the track dried out. Fraga set a respectable qualifying time in the morning and was second fastest overall in the Round 4 qualifying session. He followed this up by taking 4th in Round 5 qualifying, securing him a top spot on the starting grid.
Regarding the qualifying session, Fraga said, “While I wasn’t able to get in as much practice as I would have liked, I felt Round 4 qualifying went well overall. I was tending to oversteer a bit in the first half of the track and understeer in the middle, so I changed my settings between the qualifying sessions. However, these changes backfired slightly as the car then understeered in Round 5 qualifying. I pushed to improve my time, but went off the track slightly and dirtied my tries, so I ended up fourth.”
Round 4 Race: Maintain the starting place to secure 2nd and a podium finish
Saturday afternoon saw the start of the Round 4 race. It was the longest of the three rounds of races at SUGO, contested over 26 laps.
Fraga carefully let off the clutch for a good start and maintained his 2nd-place position. However, during the opening lap, a collision occurred involving some cars behind him that resulted in the safety car being called onto the track, resulting in a long yellow-flag situation.
The race resumed on lap 9. After the restart, 2nd-place Fraga fought off a stern challenge from Iori Kimura, who was hot on his heels in 3rd.
On lap 10, Fraga almost ran off the track at Rainbow Corner but was just about able to cover and defend his position. He held on for the remaining laps and took the checkered flag in 2nd place, his first podium finish in the SFL series.
After starting Round 4 in second, Fraga coolly staves off an attack from third place Iori Kimura.
Fraga finishes a brilliant Round 4 in 2nd place and records his first podium finish in the Super Formula Lights series. Also pictured, Round 4 winner Hibiki Taira and 3rd place Iori Kimura.
The result from the race in Round 4 determined the starting grid for Round 6, meaning that Fraga would start in second position for Sunday’s race. The team, therefore, decided to save one of the two sets of tires permitted during the race week for Round 6 on Sunday and begin Round 5 with tries used in Round 4.
Fraga shared his thoughts going into Round 5: “In Round 4, the car felt a bit peaky, and it was oversteering a little. With that, I almost went off the track, but I just about managed to stay on and keep going. I'll speak with the engineers and see what can be done for Round 5."
Round 5: Race
Round 5 took place the following day on Sunday. Having selected his worn tries, Fraga was prepared for a tough 19 laps.
On the starting grid in P4, he did not have a clean start and dropped back to 6th after allowing a couple of cars to pass him through the hairpin corner, “I was practicing my clutch release before the start and because of that, the clutch got hot and I couldn’t accelerate properly.”
Combined with the worn tires, it ended up being a hard fought race for Fraga, but he was able to maintain his position and finish in 6th place, collecting a vital series point.
Round 6 Race: Fraga scores his first SFL win
Next up was Round 6, which took place on Sunday afternoon. Fraga started 2nd on the grid, reflecting the results of the Round 4 race. The team fitted new tires to his car that were saved for this 19-lap race.
Straight from the start, Fraga closed in on the race leader, Hibiki Taira, but was unable to overtake him. The gap to the leader gradually widened as the race approached the halfway point, but Fraga was able to hold off the rest of the field and maintain P2. As the race moved into the latter stages, Fraga—aware of the distance between himself and the leader—attempted to go for the fastest lap, which would earn him one series point.
Fraga continued his attack to improve his lap time, and with two laps remaining, Taria at the head of the field suffered issues with his car and slowed , allowing Fraga to speed past him and take the lead. From there, Fraga held on for the remaining two laps to score his first win in the SFL.
Fraga climbs to 4th in the series standings
Following his victory in Round 6, Fraga gained 10 series points. Combined with his seven points from Round 4 and one point from Round 5, his series total of 21 points moved him up to 4th place in the overall standings.
Fraga comments on his first win
“I'm really happy with the result, it means a lot to me. However, I was only able to take 1st place due to the driver at the top suffering mechanical issues, so in terms of the way I feel, I’d say I’m about 98 percent happy. The remaining 2 percent is because I discovered there are still areas I’m still lacking in, so I am not 100% satisfied, and this race showed me what I need to work on next. I was also aiming for the fastest lap, but my tires wore out halfway through the race, so I didn’t get that, which was disappointing. Next time, I want to win simply by speed."
Round 6 Winner Igor Fraga (middle), 2nd place Enzo Trulli (left), 3rd place Syun Koide (right).
Fraga and his rivals celebrate on the podium with champagne.
The next round of races will be at Suzuka on July 1 and 2
From here, Fraga will head to Suzuka Circuit in the Mie prefecture for the next round of the Super Formula Lights series (Rounds 7, 8, and 9), on July 1 and 2.