September 8, 2018 Rd. 13 Okayama International Circuit

Tsuboi takes fifth straight win in rainy Rd 13, Kanamaru 2nd
Nemoto claims his first point with podium finish

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.13

Cloudy skies had turned into strong rain before qualifying for the Japanese Formula 3 championship’s Rd 13 and R14 races started in the early Saturday morning of September 8th at Okayama International Circuit in heavily wet conditions with 14 drivers except Toshiki Oyu in TODA FIGHTEX – who had to return to the pits due to an issue as the track was opened at 9 am.

With the times being reduced from 1m 40 sec range to less than 1m 38 sec as the rain eased off DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3) ran off the track at turn two just over 13 minutes into the qualifying, causing red flag.

After the session resumed with eight minutes remaining in intensified rain Sho Tsuboi (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) posted 1m37.730 He was the only driver to break 1m 38 sec, taking pole position for Rd 13 race ahead of Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) and Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX). Despite a late start just before the red flag stoppage Oyu qualified forth.

■Drivers running second hit by accidents in succession

Yu Kanamaru(B-MAX RACING F3)

Intermittent heavy rain looked slowed-down during the grid proceedings of Rd 13 but it got heavier again 10 minutes before the start of the race at 2:10 pm.

Tsuboi pulled away strongly off the line. Sasahara provided some interest in the inside of Tsuboi at Attwood, only to find no place for overtaking. In jostling through the first turns over third spot Sakaguchi and Oyu had contact, forcing Sakaguchi off the track with his left front damaged. This promoted Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3), who had made some places at the start, to fourth and Yuuki Nemoto (Albirex-RT) to fifth.

While Sasahara closely followed Tsuboi about a second off the lead in the first laps once the track surface began to dry he struggled to keep pace and eventually locked up at Redman on lap three before going off the track. Free from the pressure from the closest pursuer Tsuboi would now enjoy building up a huge lead over Oyu in second.

The race saw a series of accidents taking place once the track began to dry on lap five as the rain eased off and the pace of the entire field increased.
The third running Kanamaru went off the track at Redman on lap nine just like Sasahara on lap three, but was able to return to the track quickly.

A lap later Oyu in second also strayed from the track at turn two, slipping into the gravel trap to retire. A little back Sasahara slightly ran wide at turn one, allowing Nemoto to breeze past him for third. The Threebond would then see Ritomo Miyata (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) approach, with the two going into a scrap over fourth in the closing stages.

Yuuki Nemoto(Albirex-RT)

■Tsuboi maintains his lead to the chequered flag
Nemoto holds on for his maiden podium

With the exception of just five seconds on lap 10 in which he had to yield his top spot to avoid lapped cars after the yellow flags appeared Tsuboi maintained his lead all the way thereafter, while setting the fastest lap of 1m37.444, to win Kanamaru by 4.580 secs, taking his fifth straight and 10th wins of the season and scoring full-marks for four races in a row.

Kanamaru’s second place finish is better than his season’s best in third in Rd 11 at Motegi.
Nemoto claimed his first point with podium finish in third, the result being first Japanese Formula 3 championship podium for both Albirex and the Mercedes engine as well.

The battle over fourth place fought from the halfway point was settled when Sasahara fended off Miyata by 0.585 secs at the line. Miyata missed out on podium for the first time in six races.

Ai Miura (EXEDY B-MAX F317) took her first point finish of the season in sixth.