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Autosport High 50 of 2023: #47 Tomoki Nojiri

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After two years of dominating Tremendous Method, Nojiri returned to earth in 2023 amid his struggles to return to phrases with the brand new SF23 aero package deal, with its decreased rear downforce and resultant shift in the direction of oversteer. That confirmed when he suffered an uncharacteristic pre-season testing crash.

Issues weren’t helped by Liam Lawson’s arrival on the opposite facet of the Crew Mugen storage, and but he nonetheless matched the Kiwi’s tally of three wins, with the pair cut up by simply half a degree within the standings regardless of Nojiri lacking Autopolis with a well being scare. With champion Ritomo Miyata and Lawson each shifting on, Nojiri enters 2024 because the heavy favorite.

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Did punctured lung price Nojiri a historic hat-trick?

A look on the Tremendous Method title standings reveals that Nojiri ranked third, 8.5 factors down on Miyata, regardless of lacking a race. That was within the fourth spherical of the 12 months at Autopolis, the place Nojiri complained of chest ache whereas he was already on his solution to the observe, went to hospital, and was diagnosed with a pneumothorax, primarily a small gap in one among his lungs.

The end result was his first absence from a race since his 2014 debut.

Photograph by: Masahide Kamio

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Nojiri was pressured out of the Autopolis spherical with a punctured lung found through the race weekend

The truth that Nojiri’s stand-in Hiroki Otsu crashed out of Q1 and began from the again of the grid makes it exhausting to evaluate precisely the place the two-time champion would have fitted in had been nicely sufficient to race.

Nevertheless, easy maths dictates that 9 factors – one bonus level in qualifying and a fourth-place end within the race – from that weekend would have been sufficient for him to be ultimately topped champion and emulate Satoru Nakajima’s feat of three straight prime formulation titles between 1984 and 1986 in Japanese Method 2. Contemplating that team-mate Lawson received the race, it’s not exhausting to think about Nojiri clearing that concentrate on.

Then once more, it’s straightforward to show issues round and level out the truth that Nojiri obtained extraordinarily fortunate within the penultimate spherical of the season at Suzuka, the place Ukyo Sasahara’s horror 130R crash led to the race being cut short and allowed Nojiri to maintain the win (albeit with half factors). Few consider that Nojiri had the tempo to maintain Miyata at bay on that event, and if we give Miyata the complete 20 factors and Nojiri 15 for second, Miyata wins the title by 13 factors. Then, immediately, Nojiri wants second place at Autopolis, or third from pole.

Certainly, historical past might be rewritten in many alternative methods do you have to so select. For instance, what if Miyata was punished for a yellow flag infringement in qualifying at Sugo, as officers subsequently admitted he ought to have been? Then we’d virtually definitely be celebrating a historic rookie title success for Lawson, punctured lung or not for Nojiri.

Nojiri couldn't stop Miyata taking the Super Formula title, but he will be heavy favourite to reclaim the crown when Miyata moves on in 2024

Photograph by: Masahide Kamio

Nojiri could not cease Miyata taking the Tremendous Method title, however he might be heavy favorite to reclaim the crown when Miyata strikes on in 2024

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