October 13, 2018 Rd. 18 Fuji Speedway

An untroubled Tsuboi wins chaotic Fuji race with 11 straight and 16 season’s victories, Sakaguchi 2nd Kohno claims his first podium in 3rd

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.17

Qualifying of Japanese Formula 3 Championship started at 11:30 am on Saturday October 13th at Fuji Speedway in cloudy conditions after WEC’s practice 3.

It was red-flagged just seven minutes into the session by a left-hand mirror that came off Sena Sakaguchi’s TODA FIGHTEX as each car was about to go on to its attacks, but the part was quickly picked up and the session got back underway.

It was Sho Tsuboi (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) who topped the times on first attacks with 1m33.905, followed by Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) and Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND).

On his second attack Tsuboi secured pole position for Rd 18 race by setting a course record of 1m33.309. Improving his times on the final lap Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB F318) qualified third behind Miyata. Sasahara, Sakaguchi and Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3) rounded out the top six.

■ First lap melee leaves 4 cars behind

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

In the race that started at 3:25 pm after the WEC’s qualifying Tsuboi got off the line strongly toward the TGR corner at the front while Miyata was following Tsuboi in second, but a Katayama’s lunge into his inside line resulted in light contact, sending him into spinning and slightly damaging Katayama’s front wing.

Kanamaru and Sasahara also made contact in trying to avoid the cars ahead, forcing Sasahara into retirement and Kanamaru to go back to the pits.

The first lap melee pushed Toshiki Oyu (TODA FIGHTEX) – who had started from seventh – up to second ahead of Katayama, 10th starting Ai Miura (EXEDY B-MAX F317) and Sakaguchi.

From here Sakaguchi would play furious catch-ups, passing Miura on lap two and shooting past ailing Katayama with damaged front wing on a lap later before putting his machine right behind Oyu on lap six. A little back ninth starting Shunsuke Kohno (HubAuto F318) and a slow-starting Riki Okusa (Planex SmaCame F3) passed Miura one after another.

Once Sakaguchi fended off Oyu for second spot on lap eight the order now turned into Kohno in fourth with Okusa and Miura behind.

■Tsuboi keeps his nose clean to lead home

Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX)

With the race seeing overtaking passes almost every lap Tsuboi would circulate at less than 1m35 secs on all the laps except the opening, marking the most annual 16 wins ever recorded in JF3 with full-points including one from the fastest lap of 1m34.209 posted on lap 15 and extending his winning streak to 11.

Sakaguchi took second, his first podium finish since Rd 7.
The gap between Oyu in third and Kohno was beginning to shrink as the race hit its closing stages. Kohno started to show overtaking moves down the inside of Oyu on lap 16 and entered into close battle on lap 18 as Oyu slightly ran wide at the exit of Advan before finally getting ahead on the home straight on lap 19 to take third, his first Japanese F3 podium finish.

“I was biding my time without launching rash attacks because I knew I had a better pace (than Oyu),” said the RS FINE driver.

On his F3 debut race Okusa scored points in fifth behind Oyu.

Having held on to sixth until lap 19 Miura ceded the spot to Miyata on lap 20 who had worked his way back from early contact to score the final point.

Despite an issue Jake Parsons (NODA RACING) managed to complete the race in 14th and picked up F3-N full points, putting himself on course for recovery after the sore retirement in Rd 9.