April 22 2018 Round. 1 Suzuka

Tsuboi takes a lead at the start and keeps it till the flag
Miyata and Sakaguchi complete podium of 2018 season opener

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Sho Tsuboi (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) won the 2018 season opening of Japanese Formula 3 Championship, Sunday the 22nd April, after taking a lead at the start of the race.

Start of Japanese F3 Round 1 Suzuka

Following 3 practice sessions on Thursday and Friday a qualifying started for 30 minutes on Saturday 10 minutes late at 11:45 am in fine weather as a number of fans watched, and it was Tsuboi who topped the times in the first attacks with a time of 1m51.842 ahead of Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) and Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX). Once many machines went back to pit before setting out for second attacks, Miyata set 1m151.700 to secure his first-ever F3 pole position for Rd 1, with Tsuboi in second and Sakaguchi in third in front of Shunsuke Kohno (HubAuto F318), Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) and Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3).

A grid for Rd 2 was also determined in this qualifying according to each driver’s second best lap time.

■A battle for P4 intensifies

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

In early summer conditions with temperatures reaching 23C Suzuka Circuit was packed with a large audience on Sunday. As the race began at with formation lap at 9:45 am to complete 12 lap Miyata lost the lead to the fellow front row start Tsuboi into turn one. Sakaguchi followed the two.

“I thought the start would be one of the biggest challenge, but I couldn’t manage it. I quickly figured out why,” said Miyata.

Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB F318) spun and stopped at the hairpin on lap two when he was running sixth behind Kohno and Sasahara, ceding the spot to Kanamaru.

Ritomo Miyata(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

With the top two proceeding to expand their leads, a battle for fourth place would intensify between Kohno and Sasahara behind Sakaguchi in a lonely third. Sasahara put his car right behind Kohno on lap four and showed a series of overtaking moves at the exit of the 130R before diving down the inside of Kohno into Hitachi Automotive Systems Chicane to move up to fourth place. Kohno tried to snatch back the position at the exit of last turn, only to slightly touch the rear of the car ahead and have his nose damaged.

In the middle stages Tsuboi would keep his one-second lead over Miyata, followed by Sakaguchi and Sasahara.
Kohno would drop off the pace in the closing stages, allowing Kanamaru to catch up at the exit of Hitachi Automotive Systems Chicane on lap 10 before passing him for fifth place at turn one a lap later.

■Tsuboi holds on; Sakaguchi brings his first podium finish to TODA

Sena Sakaguchi(TODA FIGHTEX)

The closing stages would see the fight for top spot completely narrowed down to Tsuboi and Miyata, but Tsuboi stayed focused and kept pushing hard till the end, crossing the line 0.728 secs clear of his rival and leading a one-two for Corolla Chukyo Kuo TEAM TOM’S.

“I always calculated my buffer to Ritomo in order not to allow him to get into my slipstream. I think I played a good game,” Tsuboi reflected.

Sakaguchi completed the podium in a distant third in his first race with TODA RACING. “It was OK if you just look at the result, but my performance was not really good”.
Kohno placed sixth on the road behind Sasahara and Kanamaru but was relegated after being given a 30-second penalty due to the contact with Sasahara. This promoted Bruno Carneiro (B-MAX RODIZIOGRILL F3) to sixth place.

Jake Parsons put up great battles with Hideki Hirota (B-MAX ENGINEERING F3) and DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3) and admirably took his NRA312, the only F3-N in the field to the finish line.