Super Formula Lights MOTEGI (Rounds 16-18): Fraga Takes 2 Consecutive Podiums on the Final Round, Striving to Improve Further Next Season!
In an exciting return to the Super Formula Lights (SFL) circuit, racing sensation Igor Omura Fraga showcased his prowess at the Mobility Resort Motegi in Tochigi prefecture. Fraga, representing FANATEC-GRAN TURISMO with B-MAX, participated in Rounds 16, 17, and 18 after a two-month interval. The event unfolded from November 17 through 19.
Although Fraga missed clinching additional victories as anticipated, his impressive performance secured consecutive podium finishes across two races. Notably, he demonstrated consistency by accumulating points in all three rounds, solidifying his standing in the fiercely contested SFL competition.
The practice session took place on Thursday, November 16 in dry surface conditions. 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.
The Friday's practice session was marred with inclement weather, so Fraga drove only a few laps before ending the session, saving his strength for Saturday’s official qualifying.
On the first practice session on Thursday, with dry track conditions, Fraga recorded the top time of the session. On Friday, rain forced him to leave the track after a few laps.
In the previous round at Okayama, Fraga placed on the podium three consecutive times. In the final rounds of the season at Motegi, he said he felt confident in the condition of the car.
Official Qualifying Session
Grip levels changed with the weather
In official qualifying, November 18, Fraga had his eyes on grabbing pole position. However, he said he noticed a slight change in the surface conditions on this day.
The previous night's rain had washed away the tire rubber on the track surface, causing the grip level to change. He couldn't find the same traction level as on Thursday, especially when accelerating out of low-speed corners.
"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," Fraga said. His time didn't quite improve and he put his car on the No. 4 spot on the grid for Round 16.
After the official qualifying of Round 16, the team made some adjustments based on Fraga's feedback in preparation for the official qualifying for Round 17. 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, November 18 at 1:40 p.m.
Fraga, starting in 4th place, got off to a great start, immediately putting himself into a battle for 2nd place. He overtook Syun Koide at the exit of the second 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 Turn 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 Turn 3, and I was able to overtake him there and enter the third corner," Fraga recounted.
Behind Fraga, a fight for 4th place broke out involving Koide, which allowed Fraga to increase gap. He then raised his pace towards the latter part of the race, closing in on Togo Suganami, who was running in 2nd place. Although he couldn't overtake him, Fraga still crossed the finish line in 3rd place, putting him on the podium. This result also allowed him to start Round 18 from the No. 3 spot, giving him a good grid position for final race of the season.
Round 17 Race
The climactic conclusion of Round 17 unfolded on November 19, marking a pivotal moment for Fraga in his quest for the lead position. With aspirations to surpass the runner-up status, Fraga initiated the final race on a strong note, swiftly tailing Iori Kimura, who held the coveted pole position. Despite Fraga's determined start, Kimura exhibited equal determination, staunchly defending his lead position. From the race's inception, a discernible gap emerged between Kimura's commanding lead and Fraga's pursuit from the second spot on the track.
Fraga was hoping to increase pace in the latter half of the race like in Round 16, but he was unable establish a good pace, and from Lap 10, Koide started catching up to him.
"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," Fraga explained.
While hounded by Koide, Fraga maintained his position and finished the 20 laps, crossing the finish line in 2nd place. On the podium for the second time in a row, he continued to seek that elusive win.
Round 18 Race
The very last race of the 2023 season, the final race for Round 18 began later that day.
While Fraga started well from his P3 spot, Hibiki Taira got off the line better, getting ahead of Fraga at Turn 1. Fron there, Fraga's never did get into a good rhythm.
"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 place and Fraga in 4th opened every lap, and his Super GT teammate Yuga Furutani in 5th place was closing in.
"I couldn't catch Taira, but I was maintaining my pace, taking care not to be overtaken by Furutani," Fraga said.
Fraga maintained his 4th-place position until the checkered 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, me or the team 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, said that Fraga surprised them with his performance.
"This season was the first time working with Igor, but oftentimes, 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-place finish, he accrued 15 points, giving him a total of 62 series points, which was good enough to give him 4th overall in the rankings, the highest ranking for a non-automotive manufacturer-backed competitor.
You can follow all of Fraga'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!