September 9, 2017 Rd. 17 Autopolis

Tsuboi romps away to his seventh straight win with a commanding lights-to-flag victory at Autopolis
Motojima claims his maiden F3-N win

Winner of Japanese Formula3 Round 17 Sho Tsuboi

A day after three practice sessions on Friday a qualifying for Rd 17 and Rd 18 of 2017 Japanese Formula 3 championship started at 10:20 am at Autopolis for 30 minutes in fair weather following Super Formula’s free practice sessions.

Start of Round 17

However, the qualifying would be red-flagged just six minutes into the session when Hongli Ye (in KRC with B-Max F315) clashed himself. As it resumed at 10:37 am Show Tsuboi (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) rocketed to the top with a time of 1m38.116. After a second red-flag interruption caused by Motoyoshi Yoshida (B-Max Racing F312)’s stop at Turn 13 he would reduce the time to 1m37.412. With each car trying to improve times it turned out only the Corolla TOM’S drivers made it under 1m 38 seconds as Ritomo Miyata posted 1m37.470, putting his Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F314 on another front row for Rd 17 race.

Alex Palou (THREEBOND) secured third spot as his efforts in the practice sessions to master the track paid off. Mitsunori Takaboshi (B-MAX NDDP F3) struggled for pace to settle for fourth place. ‘I don’t know what was wrong,’ he said.

Yuya Motojima (Planex SmaCame F308) maintained his good performance from practice sessions to take a F3-N pole position from Shinji Sawada (B-Max Racing F306) and Masayuki Ueda (Rn Yamashita Seisakusho F308).

■ Tsuboi proceeds to extend his lead over a fierce battle for second spot

Five hours and a half after the qualifying a formation lap for Rd 17 was started 10 minutes late at 16:30 pm. The pole-sitter Tsuboi leapt into the first corner in front while Tsuboi’s late start dropped himself down the order to fourth place ahead of Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F316). The fifth-starting Hiroki Otsu TODA FIGHTEX) suffered a stall, slipping to the tail of the field.

Sho Tsuboi (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317)

Taking advantage of his strong pace throughout the weekend Tsuboi would quickly build up a 1.228 sec lead by the end of the opening lap, and then proceed to extend it to four seconds on lap five, five seconds on lap six and six seconds on lap seven, leaving Palou, Takaboshi and Miyata fiercely battling for second spot far behind.

Ailing with his tyres Palou would see his advantage being whittled by Takaboshi in third as they neared lap seven, and finally see his rival close right on to his tail on lap nine.

As the race entered lap ten Takaboshi launched a series of overtaking attempts with a slipstream on the main straight, only for Palou to protect the position each time. The B-Max even challenged Palou into the first corner on the final lap, but the Spaniard clung to the inside line to take the chequered flag in second place.

Alex Palou (THREEBOND)

Miyata missed out on a podium finish to place fourth behind Takaboshi.

Tsuboi ended up enjoying a sizable 12.805 sec lead, picking up his seventh win of the season and stretching his winning streak to five. Indeed it was a perfect race for the TOM’S as he scored full marks including a point from setting the fastest lap. This result has slashed Takaboshi’s advantage in the drivers’ championship to 24 points.

A distant fifth place went to Sakaguchi. A good start led Yoshiaki Katayama (OIRC F315) to a sixth place finish.

Yuya Motojima(Planex SmaCame F308)

■ Motojima takes his astonishing F3-N debut win; Sawada second

Meanwhile in F3-N Motojima maintained his lead from start till the end with a superb pace that allowed him to play battles even with championship class cars at some points, to take his astonishing F3-N debut win.
The third starting Ueda was given a drive-thru penalty for his false start, which moved Ryuichirou Ohtsuka (DPS.LBJ Racing CMS) up to third.
The F3-N podium was dominated by drivers who appeared this Autopolis race weekend as wild cards as Sawada closely followed Motojima throughout the race to finish in second ahead of Otsuka. This also means a great result at home soil in the Kyushu region for Motojima (from Fukuoka Prefecture) and Otsuka (from Kumamoto Prefecture).

“I’m so happy that I won the F3-N title at my age, and hopefully it will give a message that if you hang in there you can do it even if you’re not young”.

Third place went to Takashi Fujii, who prevailed in a scrap with Alex Yang (HuaJiangHU F3) to his first podium finish, a remarkable performance for the wild card driver.

Result & Entry List PDF