September 10, 2017 Rd. 18 Autopolis

Tsuboi takes his eighth win of the season while Takaboshi proves himself with setting the fastest lap

Winner of Japanese Formula3 Round 18 Sho Tsuboi

Following a Super Formula race the Rd 18 race of 2017 Japanese Formula 3 championship was contested on Sunday the 10th September at Autopolis with the grid determined by the order of each drivers’ second best time in a twice-red flagged qualifying on Saturday.

Start of Round 18

Posting 1m37.925 just before the chequered flag Sho Tsuboi (in Corolla Kuo TOM’S F317) took a pole position.
The Corolla Chukyo Kuo TEAM TOM’S duo dominated the front row with Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Kuo TOM’S F314) as another front-row starter.

The championship title lead Mitsunori Takaboshi (B-MAX NDDP F3) came into the weekend determined to respond to Tsuboi’s recent catch-ups but fell short in third in the qualifying ahead of Alex Palou (THREEBOND) who had finished in second in the previous race.

A wild card driver Yuya Motojima (Planex SmaCame F308) had secured F3-N pole position for both Rd 17 and Rd 18. Another wild card Shinji Sawada (B-Max Racing F306) would start from second with Masayuki Ueda (Shinji Sawada (B-Max Racing F306) in third.

■ A tense battle over a point for fastest lap

The race was held under a bit stronger sunlight than the day before. Despite a somewhat slow start Tsuboi headed the first corner at the front, while Miyata followed him after nailing the start this time, and even tried to dive down the inside of his team-mate at the first hairpin. The opening lap was completed, however, in the grid order with Takaboshi, Palou, Hiroki Otsu (TODA FIGHTEX) and Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F316) rounding out top six.

Sho Tsuboi (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317)

Further back Bruno Carneiro (AlbirexRT-WILSON) would battle with Ai Miura (EXEDY B-MAX F317) over seventh spot in the early stages.

With each gap among the leading pack extending little by little with less battles than usual for a longer distance of 21 laps the main focus turned to who would set fastest lap. Scoring a point with setting fastest lap was crucial for Tsuboi, in particular, the runner-up in the championship, who wanted to close the gap to Takaboshi as much as possible before the final rounds. Miyata in second renewed a fastest lap on lap seven with a time of 1m39.692 and Tsuboi beat it on lap ten with 1m39.385, but it was Takaboshi who ultimately set the fastest lap. ‘I didn’t expect I would do that time,’ Takaboshi said of 1m39.364 that he had produced on lap 16. Tsuboi posted 1m39.376 on the final lap, but just missed out on the point by milliseconds.

Ritomo MIyata(Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F314)

The race leaders each would never be threatened till the end, and Tsuboi took his sixth straight win, heading up a 1-2 finish for Corolla Chukyo Kuo TEAM TOM’S. His eighth victory of the season scored 11 points, while Takaboshi earned 6 points from the race, with the two going into the final showdown at Sugo with a 19-points gap.

Palou failed to take back-to-back podium finish as he placed fourth behind Takaboshi. Otsu finished in fifth and Sakaguchi in sixth.

■ F3-N: Motojima takes his second consecutive win from Sawada and Otsuka as in Rd 17

Yuya Motojima(Planex SmaCame F308)

Meanwhile in F3-N Motojima pulled away on the opening lap and would gradually multiply the lead, which would be retained till the chequered flag. The Hanashima also set the fastest lap in the class.

‘I was briefly caught in traffic, but raised my concentration and kept pushing on,’ said Motojima, who wrapped up his first F3-N race weekend with a perfect performance.
Capitalising on fresh rubbers saved for the race Sawada closely followed Motojima for the first two laps, only to settle for second place.

‘Yuya was slightly faster on every lap. I hope to be able to win next time,’ Sawada expressed his aspiration.

The F3-N had the same lineup for its podium as in the Rd 17 as Ryuichirou Ohtsuka (DPS.LBJ Racing CMS) clinched third place despite a contact with Ueda, that caused him a spin and gave him a penalty.
‘As I tried to get around lapped cars Masayuki contacted my machine, and I also contacted his,’ said Ohtsuka.

Result & Entry List PDF