September 24, 2017 Rd. 20 Sportsland Sugo

Otsu wins a 3-way battle to his maiden F3 victory
F3-N: Kubota’s penalty promotes the runner-up Yang to first place

Winner of Japanese Formula3 Round 20 Hiroki Otsu

The 2017 Japanese Formula 3 championship has finally gone into the season’s finale at Sugo Sportsland on Sunday.

Start of Round 20

In the Saturday’s qualifying the attacks for Rd 20 race were largely limited by a red flag interruption after SYUJI (in B-Max Racing F306) came to a halt at the exit of the S-shape turn with nine minutes remaining during the second round of attacks.

It was Hiroki Otsu (TODA FIGHTEX) who achieved maximum results from the time-sensitive situation to claim a pole position. Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F314) was the second fastest, with Sho Tsuboi (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) and Mitsunori Takaboshi (B-MAX NDDP F3) sharing the second row on the grid, exactly the same lineup as in the Rd 19.

F3-N also saw the same top three with Ryoya Hasegawa (Alb Niigata Daiichi Hotel Sugar) sitting as pole-sitter ahead of Katsuaki Kubota (Planex SmaCame F308) and Alex Yang (HuaJiangHU F3).

■ A thrilling battle fought among Otsu, Tsuboi and Takaboshi

The 2017 drivers’ title had been secured by Takaboshi on Saturday, but battles for the other teams’, constructors’ and engine tuners’ titles were still underway. The formation lap of the final race started at noon in fair weather to put an end to all the championships.

Hiroki Otsu (TODA FIGHTEX)

Otsu got another good start from pole, while the second start Miyata struggled to pick up the pace, slipping down the order behind Tsuboi and Takaboshi. Having started sixth behind Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F316) Alex Palou (THREEBOND) slightly ran wide at the SP corner on the opening lap, allowing Yoshiaki Katayama (OIRC F315) to close in, with these two drivers running head-to-head into turn one on lap two, only for the latter to get off the track.

Tsuboi closely followed Otsu as in Rd 19, and the field would see the top four bunch up including the race leader trying to revenge himself on his Saturday’s crash, the runner-up wanting to conclude the season with extending his winning streak and the 2017 F3 champion seeking one another victory.

The turning point was on lap 11 when Miyata got off the track to cede the fourth spot to Sakaguchi. This narrowed down the top battle to Otsu, Tsuboi and Takaboshi – who had seen the gap to the cars ahead open up to a second.

■ Otsu defends his lead after the safety car period

Ritomo MIyata(Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F314)

Down at the back of the field Tairoku Yamaguchi (Tairoku Racing #28 car) spun on the run towards the Rainbow turn on lap 19 and stopped.

At the time when the safety car was called the order of the leading five was Otsu at the front, Tsuboi, Takaboshi, Sakaguchi and Miyata.

At the restart on lap 23 Tsuboi aimed his car down the inside of Otsu, only for the latter to steadily defend the top spot, which he would maintain to the line.

‘I owe it all to a number of advices I got after my yesterday’s crash,’ Otsu expressed his gratitude for his maiden F3 win and the first for TODA RACING since the Kei Cozzolino’s victory at Twin Ring Motegi in 2009.

Tsuboi finished second but the scrap for third would come down to the very last moment. Having been moved to fourth place following a Sakaguchi’s slide off the track on lap 23 Miyata proceeded to give a rapid chase, heading the innermost line into the final turn on the final lap and overtaking Takaboshi just before the finish line to grab the second place.

Miyata passes Takaboshi just before finish line.

■ Kubota survives an incident-packed F3-N race to take the chequered flag at the front but…

Meanwhile in F3-N Kubota made an overtake pass on the opening lap to lead Hasegawa, the two running nose-to-tail in the early laps and going side-by-side through the first bends on lap seven.
Behind them Masayuki Ueda (Rn Yamashita Seisakusho F308) hit the tail of Yang at Turn one on lap nine, sustaining damage himself on his front wing and moving Motoyoshi Yoshida (B-Max Racing F306) up to fourth place.

Hasegawa suffered an unexpected spin and coasted to a halt at the final turn on lap 15. Just after the intervention of the safety car on lap 19 Yoshida crashed himself and also stopped at the final turn.
Kubota appeared to ease to victory, and in fact he took the chequered flag at the front, but would be penalised for his spin at the exit of Umanose just before the restart of the race and his last lap would be deemed invalid. This promoted the runner-up Yang to first place.

Having played catch-ups after replacing the damaged front wing Ueda finished third behind Kubota.

Result & Entry List PDF