Round 5 brought the roaring engines of 16 cars to Sportsland SUGO, situated in the northeast of Japan and boasting a stunning rural backdrop, home to the final round of the 2023 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Japan in the midst of a scorching heat wave. With plenty of ascents and descents, the circuit offered an elevation difference of 73m, capitalizing on its mountainous setting as well as a succession of tight turns. At 12:35pm under the intense summer sun, with temper atures pushing 34 degrees Celsius, Race 1 began.
Trofeo Pirelli. With a margin of victory established, Yudai Uchida secured pole position for Trofeo Pirelli at SUGO Circuit with impressive confidence and speed. From the very start of the race, the champion quickly built a one-second lead per lap over the second place. By the end of the 21-lap race, his margin of victory was an impressive 26-seconds. Uchida’s sure-footed performance at the circuit, which he visits at least once per year, only further reinforces his dominance in the sport.
In an incredibly competitive field, Akita set the pace in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, taking pole position ahead of points leader Eric Lo. 6 cars lined up on the grid for the start of the race, with Akita holding the competitive advantage over Lo and Motohiro Kotani – all clocking times within the second of each other.The intense battle between Lo and Akita stayed close until lap 10, when Kotani spun out in the first corner giving Akita the perfect opportunity to overtake. Unfortunately, he was unable to take advantage as Lo re-took the lead on lap 15, maintaining it until the chequered flag, winning the race by a 5.5 second margin.
Coppa Shell. In the five-entry Coppa Shell class, points leader Michael Choi was firmly in pole position before the race even began, as the championship had already been decided in the driver's favor after round five, when the second-placed rider chose not to enter. Throughout the race, the points leader gradually built up a lead on the other competitors, and opened up an impressive 10-second gap between himself and the rest of the field. He added to his championship victory with a win at the checkered flag.
Masato Yoneoka has had a triumphant racing season, winning pole position in the Coppa Shell Am class, with an impressive qualifying time. He has further shown his prodigious talent by winning six out of seven races. At SUGO, Yoneoka once again demonstrated his remarkable skill, claiming the victory and becoming the 2023 Coppa Shell Am champion.