September 29, 2018 Rd. 15 Sportsland Sugo

Tsuboi crowned champion after notching up 12 straight wins with a comfortable lights-to-flag victory

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.15

The Japanese Formula 3 Championship went into the Sugo race weekend, and following 2-day practice sessions the event had a busy day on Saturday September 29th, starting with a qualifying session in the early morning.

As soon as the qualifying started at 8:00 am in cloudy but dry conditions despite earlier concerns for rain close battles for optimal lines were played, but five minutes into the session Toshiki Oyu in TODA FIGHTEX had contact with Shunsuke Kohno (HubAuto F318) at Umanose, causing a red flag.

Having changed to his third fresh tyres at the stoppage out of four tyre sets allowed for this weekend Sho Tsuboi (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) got off to a flying start for his title battle as he posted a course record of 1m11.871 to secure a pole position for Rd 15. Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) qualified second.

Oyu placed fourth behind Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) but was relegated by five grids as the result of the contact with Kohno. Fifth placed Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX) was also relegated by five grids for replacement of his engine after an issue during a practice session.

■Tsuboi manages to retain his lead at the start

Ritomo Miyata(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Despite getting wheelspin at the start Tsuboi managed to hold off Miyata in second and retain his lead when Rd 15 race got underway at 11:25 am about three hours after the qualifying still in cloudy but dry conditions.
It was Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3) who got the best start of the field as he rocketed to third having started from sixth.

10th qualifier Yuki Nemoto (Albirex-RT) was forced to start from the pit lane.

Sasahara also suffered wheelspin at the start, dropping down to fifth, but immediately made up he lost ground by moving back to fourth by the end of the opening lap and diving down the inside line of Kanamaru at turn one on lap two to reclaim the third spot. Oyu and Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB F318) were left in fifth and sixth behind Kanamaru.
Katayama passed Oyu at turn one on lap three to go on to chase Kanamaru.

In trying to secure his title in the race Tsuboi posted 1m13.216 on lap three, which he would reduce to 1m13.076 on lap four and 1m13.075 on lap 14, even though his lead over Miyata made no further improvements than a second that reached on lap five.

A battle for third position was fought about two seconds behind Miyata between Sasahara and Kanamaru with the two circulating within a second of each other. About four seconds behind the battle there was a scrap going on over final points among a pack consisting Katayama, Oyu and Sakaguchi

Ukyo Sasahara(THREEBOND)

■Sasahara fends off Kanamaru to third place

The closing stages saw the Tsuboi’s lead slightly cut by lapped cars but he comfortably controlled his pace to take the chequered flag, crossing the line 0.313 secs clear of Miyata. With 12 points scored in the race including a point from fastest lap Tsuboi has been crowned 2018 Japanese F3 champion with five races to spare.

While there were dramas on the final lap when Sakaguchi span at turn three while running sixth and Ai Miura (EXEDY B-MAX F317) went off, the race was never interrupted.
Sasahara fended off Kanamaru to clinch third place behind Miyata. Despite the penalty Oyu picked up the final point in sixth behind Katayama.

Kazuto Kotaka (Planex SmaCame F3) dropped down the order at the start but finished seventh on his Japanese F3 debut. Sakaguchi recovered from the spin to place eighth.
Jake Parsons (NODA RACING) claimed F3-N title win after finishing 14th.