July 13, 2019 Rd 11 FUJI Speedway

Enaam Ahmed claims his first win of the season as Fenestraz and Miyata both end up with no points

 Despite the onset of light rain coinciding with the start proceedings all the cars chose slick tyres for a partly wet track at Fuji Speedway on Saturday.

 It was Ritomo Miyata who took the chequered flag at the front in the Rd 11 of Japanese Formula 3 championship that had a safety car in the early stages, but the TOM’S driver was disqualified as his Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317 was found violating a regulation, promoting the second finisher Enaam Ahmed in B-Max Racing with motopark F3 for his first win in the championship and Hiroki Otsu (ThreeBond F319) and Toshiki Oyu (TODA FIGHTEX) to second and third respectively. Ahmed also set the fastest lap of the race.

 Although leading the pack for much of the laps the championship leader Sacha Fenestraz (B-Max Racing with motopark F3) placed eighth as he was slapped with a drive-thru penalty for an “illegal” restart after the SC period.

■Miyata goes lights-to-flag on the road, but…

 Miyata secured pole position with a time of 1m33.507 in the 30-min qualifying that started at 8:25 am with 12 cars in dry conditions. Charles Milesi (YTB by Carlin) and Tairoku Yamaguchi (Tairoku Racing #28 car) missed the fifth Fuji race event.

 Just three-tenths of a second behind Fenestraz qualified second ahead of Kazuto Kotaka (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317), Otsu, Ahmed, Shunsuke Kohno (RS FINE K&N F318) and Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB by Carlin).

 It was beginning to rain when the formation lap started at 1:45 pm 5 hours after the qualifying. Ameya Vaidyanathan (B-Max Racing with motopark F3) spun during the lap but managed to return to the track, and all the cars lined up on the grid.

 Miyata got a relatively good start, while Fenestraz got up to speed more quickly, going side-by-side with the pole-sitter before diving the inside of Coca-Cola, only for the latter to defend the lead around the outside.

 Close battles were also fought behind the leaders. Ahmed and Otsu both had successfully got ahead of Kotaka before the opening lap was completed even though the Briton suffered an off at turn one.

 Kohno brushed Kotaka at the exit of the Dunlop in an overtaking move, drifting into a half spin across the grass.

 Further back, DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3) contacted Ai Miura, tipping her into a spin and crash, bringing out the safety car to remove Miura’s ThreeBond F314.

 As the race restarted at the end of lap four Miyata, Fenestraz and Otsu coming around the outside went three-wide, the ThreeBond man diving down the first corner at the front, only to fail to negotiate the turn and go off the track before being passed by Ahmed to drop to fourth.

 Taking the innermost line into turn one Fenestraz grabbed the lead to set about establishing healthy advantage over Miyata.

 Otsu now found himself under pressure from Toshiki Oyu charging from eighth on the grid, and ceded the fourth at the final turn. He challenged Oyu to snatch back the spot at turn one on the next lap, but the Toda driver held firm even though he slightly got off the track.

 Katayama overtook Kotaka for sixth through the Dunlop on lap six.

 Lap seven saw Kohno complete an overtaking pass at the final turn after persistent attention to the eighth running Vaidyanathan. However, Vaidyanathan immediately made up the lost ground as he retook the position at turn one a lap later.

 Katayama ran wide while braking at turn one on the same lap, dropping down the order.

 The cat-and-mouse game played after the restart settled down as the race hit the halfway point, with the leading pack of Fenestraz, Miyata and Ahmed lapping over two seconds ahead of each other. Behind them Oyu and Otsu were catching up, but not in a pace that would soon see position changes.

■ Ahmed and Otsu secure their first podium finishes since the second Autopolis event

 By this time a series of penalties had been issued by the control tower. DRAGON was the first to receive as he was hit with a 30-second pit stop penalty for the contact with Miura, and then Vaidyanathan and the race leader Fenestraz were given drive-thru on lap 11 for breach of a start proceeding regulation, and lap 12 for violating one of the safety car procedures regulations respectively, each of the two coming into the pits to serve their penalties.

 As the result Miyata returned to the top and Ahmed to second, leaving Oyu and Otsu battling closely again.

 Otsu almost caught up with Oyu at the exit of turn one on lap 14 and passed the Toda driver at the Coca-Cola for third place.

 There was no major change in the order thereafter, and Miyata took the chequered flag at the front but would be disqualified for his car not complying with a regulation. This left Ahmed, Otsu, Oyu, Kotaka, Katayama and Kohno in the points.

 Unexpectedly the championship leader Fenestraz and the runner-up Miyata ended up with no points.

 Vaidyanathan was also hit with a post-race 30-second time penalty for an action at the restart of the race.

 In contrast the 30-second time penalty applied to DRAGON was cancelled after the race. He won the Master class with no other contenders running in the race.