Super Formula Lights MOTEGI (Rounds 16-18): Fraga Takes 2 Consecutive Podiums on the Final Round, Striving to Improve Further Next Season!
On 17-19 November, following a two-month interval from the last race, Igor Omura Fraga competed in Rounds 16, 17, and 18 of Super Formula Lights (SFL) at the Mobility Resort Motegi in the Tochigi prefecture with 'FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX.' While Fraga did not score any more wins as he had hoped, he stood on the podium two races in a row and earned points in all three rounds.
The practice session took place on Thursday, 16 November with dry surface conditions. Igor Omura Fraga was in top shape, recording the best time in the sessions.
"The car's condition is very good. There were still a few more things I would have liked to refine, but I feel it's in a very good place." He said.
There was a practice session planned on Friday as well, but weather conditions worsened with rain. Igor only drove a few laps before ending the session, saving his strength for Saturday’s official qualifying.
On the first practice session on Thursday, under dry track conditions. Recording the top time of the session, Igor shows they are more than ready. On Friday however, the weather turned for the worse and he left the track only after a few laps
In the previous round at Okayama, Igor placed on the podium 3 times in a row. In the final rounds of the season at Motegi, he also felt confidence in the condition of the car
Official Qualifying Session
Feeling a lack of traction
In the official qualifying on 18 November at 9:25am, Igor entered the track with an aim to grab pole position. However, he said he noticed a slight change in the surface conditions on this day.
In the rain of the previous night, the tyre rubber on the track surface had been washed away, and there was now a slight difference in grip. He could not get the same traction as in the practice session on Thursday when accelerating out of the low speed corners, slightly reducing his acceleration.
"I was feeling this a bit on Thursday already, so if we could have been able to practice on Friday in the dry we might have been able to compensate." Said Igor, whose time didn't quite improve and placed his car at 4th position on the grid for Round 16.
After the official qualifying of Round 16, the team made some fine adjustments based on Igor's feedback in preparation for the official qualifying for Round 17 starting at 9:45am. As a result Igor was able to improve his position, ending the qualifier while securing 2nd position on the grid for the Round 17 final.
Round 16 Race
Round 16's final race began on Saturday, 18 November at 1:40pm.
Igor, starting in 4th, got off to a great start, getting right behind the squabble for 2nd place. He overtook Syun Koide at the exit of the 2nd corner, moving up to 3rd place.
"The two cars ahead of me were fighting for 2nd place when I was entering the first corner, and when Koide accelerated out of corner 2 while keeping to the inside, his acceleration was slightly hampered. I was able to gain good speed at the exit, and lined up next to Koide before corner 3, and I was able to overtake him there and enter the third corner." Said Igor.
Behind Igor a fight for 4th place broke out involving Koide, giving an advantage to Igor. He spread the gap with the group behind him, and raised his pace towards the latter part of the race, closing in on Togo Suganami in 2nd. He was not able to overtake him however and received the chequered flag in 3rd, placing him on the podium. This result also put him on 3rd position of the starting grid for Round 18, ensuring a good start for the very last round.
Round 17 Race
On 19 November, the final race for Round 17 started at 8:55am. Fraga, aiming to take the lead from 2nd place, got off to a good start again, and chased Iori Kimura in pole position. However, Kimura also had a good start and was not giving up the position easily. And already, the gap between Kimura in the lead and Fraga in 2nd starts to open from the very first lap.
Fraga was hoping to increase pace in the latter half of the race like in Round 16, but he was not able to do that, and from the 10th lap Koide started catching up in 3rd.
"Koide was closing in but I was confident I would not be passed as long as I didn't make any mistakes. He was closing in at the V corner and Hairpin, so I focused not to make any mistakes there and drove so that I got good acceleration out of the corners to gain some speed." Said Igor.
While chased by Koide, Fraga maintained his position and finished 20 laps, receiving the chequered flag in 2nd. On the podium for the 2nd time in a row since the previous day, the fight for the win continued.
Round 18 Race
The very last race of the 2023 season, the final race for Round 18 began at 1:00pm.
While Igor got a good launch off the grid in 3rd, Hibiki Taira had a slight upper hand in accelerating and got ahead of Igor at Turn 1. Thereafter, Igor's car didn't seem to pick up the pace.
"In the same way as the last race, the car was sliding sideways on acceleration out of low speed corners, and my pace just didn’t improve."
The gap between Taira in 3rd and Fraga in 4th opened every lap, and behind Igor, his Super GT teammate Yuga Furutani in 5th was closing in.
"I couldn't catch Taira but I was maintaining my pace, taking care not to be overtaken by Furutani." Said Fraga, and he maintained 4th position until the chequered flag.
Having finished the final round of the Super Formula Lights, Fraga looked back on the year and this weekend.
"I really wanted to get one more win for this season, but when the surface conditions changed, myself and the team included didn't quite have the ability to compensate right away. But this year I was neck deep in racing, I was able to fill the two-year gap spent away from racing and was able to gain confidence. I'd like to do better next year."
Team Director Kosuke Matsuura (FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX) looking back on the season says that Fraga surprised them with his performance.
"This season was the first time working with Igor but often times he would surprise us, being much faster than we had expected. I regret that we were not able to provide a car at a level that could really support his speed. Nothing is decided yet for next year, but I expect that he will be performing at an even higher level."
Ending the final rounds of the season with a 3rd, 2nd, and 4th finish, he gained 15 points. This gave him 62 series points in total, placing him 4th overall in the rankings, which was the highest ranking for a non-automotive manufacturer-backed competitor.
You can follow all of Igor's racing in the 2023 Super Formula Lights Championships (FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX) on the 'Igor Fraga Report' page.
SUPER FORMULA LIGHTS 2023 FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX
Igor Omura Fraga
Event / Final Results per round
(Podium finish in bold)
Rd.1-3・Autopolis / DNF / 4th / 7th
Rd.4-6・SUGO / 2nd / 6th / 1st
Rd.7-9・Suzuka / DNF / 9th / 7th
Rd.10-12・Fuji / 9th / 4th / 8th
Rd.13-15・Okayama / 2nd / 2nd / 2nd
Rd.16-18・Motegi / 3rd / 2nd / 4th
Total Series Points: 62
Series Point Ranking: 4th
Super Formula Lights MOTEGI (Rounds 16-18): Highlights
Thanks to everyone for your support and interest in the Super Formula Lights series this year including Igor’s first victory at Round 6 in SUGO, and his first challenge in the world of touring car racing in the Super GT300 class, as well as his feats in the Gran Turismo World Series. Please look forward to more accomplishments by Igor in the future!