September 23, 2017 Rd. 19 Sportsland Sugo

Tsuboi picks up his ninth win but narrowly misses out on a point, allowing Takaboshi to seal 2017 drivers’ title

Winner of Japanese Formula3 Round 19 Sho Tsuboi

FThe track of Sportsland Sugo was wet on Saturday morning after the rain during the night. A Super Formula’s free practice session had dried the racing lines but a 30-min qualifying for Japanese Formula 3 championship Rd 19 and Rd 20 was expected to be fought in different conditions from its practice sessions.

As the qualifying started at 10:15 am each car did just one lap and then pitted. Posting 1m13.236 Hiroki Otsu (in TODA FIGHTEX) was the fastest at that time, followed by Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Kuo TOM’S F314), Sho Tsuboi (Corolla Kuo TOM’S F317) and Mitsunori Takaboshi (B-MAX NDDP F3).

Start of Round 19

Just after the second round of pit-stops that started with nine minutes to go SYUJI (B-Max Racing F306) stopped at the exit of the S-shape turn, bringing out a red flag. Although the session resumed with three minutes remaining the drivers were forced to complete their attacks in two laps.

It was Otsu who set the fastest time, having improved the times to 1m12.588 to claim his first ever pole position. Miyata secured another front-row position with the title contenders Tsuboi in third and Takaboshi in fourth.
Ryoya Hasegawa (Alb Niigata Daiichi Hotel Sugar) took a F3-N pole position ahead of Katsuaki Kubota (Planex SmaCame F308) and Alex Yang (HuaJiangHU F3).

■ Otsu has an unexpected crash

At the start of Rd 19 race that began four hours after the qualifying in still cloudy but completely dried conditions the pole-sitter Otsu led Tsuboi into turn one while a bit late getaway from front row cost Miyata one position. Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F316) passed Takaboshi around the outside to take fourth spot.

Hiroki Otsu (TODA FIGHTEX)

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

Otsu was trying to pull away for his first win but Tsuboi was following closely about five tenths of a second behind in the early stages. Miyata and Sakaguchi each were also within a second of cars ahead.

As some of the cars were being lapped on lap ten the gap was reduced further, and Otsu’s hope of first victory would be dashed when he lost his balance through SP In-corner on lap 11 and got off the track on the run to SP Out-corner. He managed to return to the track, only to lose balance again and spin out before heavily hitting the foam barrier.

■ Battle for scoring one point goes into the final lap

Ritomo MIyata(Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F314)

The crash immediately prompted the safety car, and moved Miyata up to the top spot ahead of Sakaguchi and Takaboshi. The fastest lap at that time was marked by Sakaguchi.

As the race restarted on lap 15 Tsuboi quickly proceeded to try to score one point for setting fastest lap that he needed to remain on course for the title as well as winning the race. Having successfully come out on top in the lap times on the penultimate lap by posting 1m17.273, Tsuboi picked up his ninth win of the season with seven straight victories, believing he won the fastest lap.

However, the reality proved different as it was actually Miyata, who scored one point for setting fastest lap, having posted 1m13.180 on the final lap to finish second. ‘At the start I couldn’t make good use of my grid position in second. So, I really wanted to win the fastest lap for the first time of the season,’ said the TOM’S driver.

Takaboshi won 2017 Japanese F3 Champion.

Sakaguchi completed the podium in third, his best result of the season.

Takaboshi placed fourth and as the result he has sealed the 2017 drivers’ title after scoring three points to bring the total to 145 points, 12 points higher than Tsuboi – who added just 10 points from the race.

Alex Palou (THREEBOND) was fifth and Yoshiaki Katayama (OIRC F315) was sixth.

■ Hasegawa wins F3-N – a ‘strategy’ to rest up for Sugo pays off

Meanwhile in F3-N Kubota snatched a lead from Hasegawa at the start, and Masayuki Ueda (Rn Yamashita Seisakusho F308) and Yang followed the two.
After several laps Hasegawa began to reduce the gap with a strong pace and took back the lead from Kubota through turn 1 on lap seven.
He would maintain the spot thereafter till the chequered flag, clinching his second win of the season and his first since Rd 7 at Fuji. ‘A strategy to pass up the Rd 18 to rest up for Sugo paid off,’ said the Albirex man.
Despite a leg cramp Kubota managed to bring his machine to the line in second place.
Ueda’s third place finish nonetheless did not secure him a second place in the overall F3-N standings because of the Hasegawa’s victory.

Result & Entry List PDF