October 14, 2018 Rd. 19 Fuji Speedway

Tsuboi wraps up rain-soaked season’s finale with 17th win

Sho Tsuboi(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.17

The 2018 Japanese Formula 3 championship has finally come into the season’s finale on Sunday the 14th October after 18 races in 8 events.

In the Saturday’s qualifying that was red-flagged due to a mirror coming off the Sena Sakaguchi’s TODA FIGHTEX Sho Tsuboi placed his Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317 on pole position for Rd 19 with Ritomo Miyata (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) as another front-row starter. Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) secured the third spot.

With the rain almost stopping but leaving the track in wet conditions throughout at Fuji Speedway all the cars lined up on the grid on wet tyres for the formation lap that started at 9:05 am.

■ Miyata takes the lead at the start

Ritomo Miyata(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Tsuboi got a slightly late start, allowing Miyata to dive up the inside of him at TGR to takes the lead. Sasahara also tried a pass at Coca-Cola and then at Toyopet 100R, only for Tsuboi to cut him off and retain the second place. At the end of the opening lap came Miyata at the front, Tsuboi and Sasahara.

A little back Yoshiaki Katayama lost control of his YTB F318 at the exit of the 13th corner as a result of a contact at Coca-Cola while running sixth behind the Toda pair of Sena Sakaguchi and Toshiki Oyu (both in TODA FIGHTEX), drifting into a half-spin and crashing out with Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3) before forcing himself into retirement and Kanamaru to pit.

Struggling with the slippery conditions Miyata found his lead over Tsuboi being whittled as early as on lap four. With Sasahara closely tailing Tsuboi, the opening laps would see the top three bunch up.

■Tsuboi snatches back the lead for 12th consecutive victory

Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND)

Tsuboi closed to within a second of his team-mate on lap five and made a pass up the inside of Miyata at TGR a lap later to snatch back the lead. The order of the top three further changed on lap seven when Sasahara overtook Miyata at TGR for second spot.

Behind the leaders Oyu got the jump on Sakaguchi on lap two for fourth place, who in turn would be passed by Shunsuke Kohno (HubAuto F318) at Coca-Cola on lap nine to drop down to sixth. Further back DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3) and Riki Okusa (Planex SmaCame F3) were closely fighting over ninth spot.

Tsuboi eventually won Sasahara by 3.949 secs at the chequered flag, wrapping up the final race with 17th season’s and 12th consecutive victory, a commanding record for the 2018 Japanese F3 crowned champion.

Miyata was third ahead of Oyu and Kohno. Sakaguchi rounded out the points in sixth.
Having scored 119 points Miyata placed second in the drivers’ standings ahead of Sasahara with 63 points.

Jake Parsons (NODA RACING) finished in 12th after playing out battles, completing the season with 18 wins in F3-N.