September 9, 2018 Rd. 14 Okayama International Circuit

Tsuboi wins a race affected by two SC periods, putting one hand on title with 11th victory

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.14

Sho Tsuboi in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317 took pole position for Rd 14 as well as Rd 13 with his second best time of 1m37.779 in the Saturday’s qualifying that resumed with 8 minutes remaining after a red flag interruption caused in terribly wet conditions by DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3).

The front row for Rd 14 was secured by the same lineup as for Rd 13 as Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) placed second. Third went to Ritomo Miyata (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317).

■Race starts behind safety car

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Unlike the previous round in which the track gradually turned from very wet to dry, heavy rain was expected to continue throughout the day on Sunday September 10th, and it was decided that race distance would be reduced for both Japanese Formula 3 Rd 14 and Super Formula Rd 9 (JF3: 25 laps to 18 laps or 35 min. at maximum; SF: 18 laps to 13 laps).

The race began at 10:15 am behind the safety car for the first time in this season, and as it pulled in after three laps and the race properly got underway on lap four Tsuboi comfortably leapt into the first corner at the front, and Sasahara and Miyata followed him keeping the grid order.

Tsuboi was able to quickly put two-second margin between himself and Sasahara on lap four. With the field finding it difficult to close in on car ahead being blocked out by spray only a pack of Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX) at the front, Toshiki Oyu (TODA FIGHTEX) and Yuuki Nemoto (Albirex-RT) – who had claimed his first podium finish in the last race – played close battles, running within a second or so of each other.

Safety car called again.

■Tsuboi did full-point again

With the heavy rain still falling the closing stages saw the gap of each car expanding except DRAGON and Tairoku Yamaguchi (Tairoku Racing #28) scrapping over 12th spot. Another focus was on who would pick up fastest lap of the race, or whether the 1m39.222 posted by Tsuboi would be bettered, in other words. The likeliest was the second running Sasahara, and the second likeliest was Miyata putting in an aggressive drive in third
“I was aiming to pick up fastest lap and improve my position, trying to figure out how I could go faster in this rain,” said Miyata, but his hopes were dashed when the safety car was called again on lap 16 due to even heavier rain.

Retaining his lead all the way to the chequered flag Tsuboi celebrated his 11th victory with yet another full-point. As a result he extended his championship lead over Miyata to 59 points, which means the TOM’S driver has now put one hand on drivers’ title with a possibility to clinch the 2018 championship as soon as the next Rd 9 race.

In the meanwhile, Jake Parsons (NODA RACING) took the chequered flag in 11th and scored F3-N full-points once again.