Miki Koyama makes history, secures Formula Regional Japan title
Making history: having been signed to the Toyota GR junior programme, Miki Koyama delivered at her first season in Formula Regional Japan and claimed an historic title.
Former W Series racer and current Toyota Gazoo Racing junior driver Miki Koyama made history at Fuji International Speedway when she secured the Formula Regional Japan championship title with one round to go.
At her first participation in the series, Koyama claimed seven race victories out of 14 races and, with an 86 point margin to main title rival Sota Ogawa, she rounded out the championship on Saturday afternoon, after a race win in Race 2.
Koyama raced in the all female W Series in both 2019 - where she was seventh in the drivers' championship - and 2021, when she eventually missed out on a top-8 after a remarkably unlucky season, marked by several technical difficulties.
But the international platform of W Series surely had a great impact on the young Japanese racer's following program, as she was picked up by Toyota Gazoo Racing's young driver programme and became the first ever woman within the manufacturer's driver roster.
While she had already entered selected races in both Formula Regional Japan as well as SuperFormula Lights championships, Koyama's full season commitment in the Formula Regional
Entering the penultimate round, Koyama had to battle with Sutekina Racing Team's Riki Okusa, who joined the series at the previous round at Sportsland Sugo. Okusa was fast straight away in practice, but Koyama would end Friday on top of the timing sheets by almost half a second over her opponent. Sota Ogawa, second in the point's standings, was only fourth fastest.
On Saturday morning, Miki Koyama claimed pole position for Race 1 and was second fastest in Q2 - which resulted in three starts from the front row for the driver of the #8 Super License Team.
In Race 1, though, Koyama lost the lead to Okusa on the opening lap; behind them, Ogawa spun after battling for third with Katayama, which gave a further margin to Miki Koyama in the championship. Despite the young lady trying in the closing stages to attack Okusa, she had to settle for second.
Race 2 was Koyama's first opportunity to wrap up the title but, starting from second, she had a slow start and dropped to third, behind pole-sitter Okusa and Katayama.
She then started to hunt down the leading duo and overtook Katayama on lap 5 - as the latter dropped to eighth - and finally took the lead of the race two laps later.
She was followed closely by Sota Ogawa, who could still finish second - but the now-86 point margin handed Miki Koyama the 2022 title.
In Race 3 on Sunday morning, Okusa couldn't capitalize on his pole position, as he stalled on the grid and could not take the start of the final race at Fuji. But it would be Sota Ogawa to make the most out of the race start, as he took the early lead ahead of Miki Koyama and Katayama.
Koyama was faster for most of the race but couldn't find a way past Ogawa and took the chequered flag in second place. The Toyota junior thus made history at the brand's home track and became the first ever woman to win a mixed-gender FIA-sanctioned single seater championship.
Hopefully, the record-breaking result will bring Miki Koyama more opportunities in the near future.
The final double header at Suzuka will be contested on 10–11 December.