Marino Sato leads Japanese podium in slipstream classic at Monza


Marino Sato prevailed in a slipstream classic at Monza Eni Circuit, topping an all-Japanese podium in the first Euroformula Open race of the weekend.

Double R Racing’s Linus Lundqvist started from pole but made a poor start, handing the lead to Carlin’s Teppei Natori. The Japanese driver quickly opened up a gap as a number of fierce battles took place behind.

Liam Lawson, who led for a few seconds at the start, got crossed up at Ascari while trying to pass Nicolai Kjaergaard and fell down the order, leaving Natori leading Kjaergaard, Motopark's Cameron Das and Sato, Lundqvist and Christian Hahn at the end of the first lap.

Das and Kjaergaard traded second place, with Sato then getting involved and completing a stunning move around the outside of Lesmo 2 on Das for third. Lundqvist then overtook Kjaergaard, and the quartet split into two pairs.

After several laps of minimised battling, Das and Sato closed onto the tail of Natori, and their three-way battle then brought Lundqvist and Kjaergaard back into play. On lap 11 of 16, Lundqvist passed Das for third at Curva Parabolica, while Sato started a run of passing Natori down the pit straight for the lead and then conceding the position at the second chicane.

Honda junior Yuki Tsunoda was on a charge, setting fastest lap after fastest lap while overtaking cars, and he was soon involved too to make it a six-way fight for the lead. Kjaergaard and Tsunoda passed Das on lap 13, and a lap later Kjaergaard moved past old BRDC British Formula 3 rival Lundqvist for third.

On the final lap, champion Sato repeated his usual Turn 1 overtake but this time kept the lead. Natori immediately had his mirrors full of team-mate Kjaergaard, who couldn’t find a way through and down the pit straight for the final time was passed by Tsunoda for third place.

Kjaergaard, Lundqvist and Das finished fourth, fifth and sixth, with Teo Martín Motorsport’s Lukas Dunner even on their tail by the end. Motopark’s Niklas Krutten took eighth after penultimate lap contact with Hahn (Carlin), leaving RP Motorsport’s championship debutant Kyle Kirkwood and Jack Doohan (Double R) as the last two points finishers.

Fortec Motorsports’ Calan Williams finished 16th after contact was made with Dunnerd down the pit straight, while neither Lawson or Drivex School’s Rui Andrade finished after they collided at Turn 1.

The battle for second in the standings and the rookie title is still wide open heading into the season's final race.