Gasly closes on Ishiura with Sugo podium
24 September 2017 – Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly closed the gap to Super Formula title leader Hiroaki Ishiura to just half a point, after coming within three-tenths of a second of victory at Sugo on Sunday.
Gasly moved up to second off the line, slotting in behind Yuhi Sekiguchi, with both gaining one position after pole-sitter Nick Cassidy made a tardy getaway.
Gasly inherited the lead when Sekiguchi, who had opened a healthy buffer, made his stop on lap 42, and the Mugen racer extended his first stint for a further 15 laps, before he too dived into the pits.
The Frenchman emerged in second place, once the final stoppers had filtered through, and closed in on Sekiguchi across the remainder of the 68-lap race.
Sekiguchi, though, held firm, and crossed the line a mere 0.243s in front of Gasly, who added a runner-up spot to previous wins at Motegi and Autopolis.
As a result, Gasly moves to within half a point of Ishiura, ahead of the final double-header of the season at Suzuka next month.
Ishiura endured a poor start, ciruclating as low as 13th, having started eighth, but put in a fine recovery drive to finish sixth, ensuring he preserved a slender title advantage.
Felix Rosenqvist, who entered the race half a point behind Gasly, remains in title contention after he placed fifth, as the highest of those who opted not to make a pit-stop during the race.
Only one tyre compound was selected for Sugo – the Medium – meaning there was no variation in tyre strategy, thus opening up the option for a no-stop approach.
Former Williams racer Kazuki Nakajima and reigning champion Yuji Kunimoto took third and fourth respectively.
1. Hiroaki Ishiura - 33.5 points
2. Pierre Gasly - 33 points
3. Felix Rosenqvist - 28.5 points
The final round of the season will take place at Suzuka from October 20 to 22