July 28, 2018 Rd. 7 Okayama International Circuit

Miyata beats Tsuboi to a back-to-back win
Sasahara takes his third consecutive podium finish in third

Ritomo Miyata(Collora Chukyo Kuo TOM'S F317)

Start of Japanese F3 Round.7

Qualifying for Rd 7 and Rd 8 of Japanese Formula 3 Championship took place on Saturday 28th July at Okayama International Circuit in cloudy weather with a lot lower air and track temperatures than practice sessions on Thursday and Friday.

Each car went out on fresh rubber as the session started at 10:20 am and it was Sho Tsuboi in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317 who came out on top in the first attacks, posting 1m22.246 ahead of Ritomo Miyata (in Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) who posted 1m22.656, with the Toda pair of Toshiki Oyu (TODA FIGHTEX) in third and Sena Sakaguchi (TODA FIGHTEX).

With many drivers opting to stay with first sets of tyres as long as possible to save the remaining two sets for three races over the weekend Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) and Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB F318) pitted early for second sets of tyres.

With the others setting out for second attacks with around ten minutes to go Tsuboi reduced his times to 1m22.395, but Miyata did even further to 1m22.395 before proceeding to one more lap.

Miyata takes lead from Tsuboi

However, the qualifying was red-flagged and called as Motoyoshi Yoshida stalled his B-MAX ENGINEERING F3 at the double hairpin, resulting in marking Tsuboi’s first pole position since the season opener. Oyu placed third behind Tsuboi but was relegated to sixth for having replaced his engine. Sakaguchi would start the Rd7 race from third ahead of Ukyo Sasahara (THREEBOND) in fourth and Katayama in fifth.

■Front row starters hit with penalties

It was raining lightly when formation lap was started earlier at 13:55 pm as a precaution against typhoon No. 12 approaching, but each car got away off the line on slick tyres as it was not as heavy as to turn the track into wet conditions.

Miyata got a strong start from pole position into the first corner and Tsuboi closely followed while a fairly sluggish start demoted the third-start Sakaguchi to the tail of the field. Despite being promoted by the Toda driver from fifth to third Katayama was hit with a drive-thru for a false start. Oyu was also given a penalty for violating the yellow line rule while running fifth.

Ukyo Sasahara(THREEBOND)

This formed a leading pack of the TOM’S pair at the front, Sasahara, Yu Kanamaru (B-MAX RACING F3) and Shunsuke Kohno (HubAuto F318). Fighting his way back through the order Sakaguchi moved up to the points on lap eight as he overtook Ai Miura (EXEDY B-MAX F317) in a distant six place.

As the race went on the sun came out, and it started to look like a duel between Miyata and Tsuboi battling for tenths of a second, leaving Sasahara in third as much as five seconds behind.

■Miyata wins the lead battle

Yu Kanamaru(B-MAX RACING F3)

The Miyata’s lead, however, would start gradually expanding on lap 10 when the field saw lapped cars, and reach 1.6 seconds with three laps to go. Miyata kept over a second lead over Tsuboi to the chequered flag, clinching a back-to-back win with his first ever lights-to-flag victory. Tsuboi picked up a point with setting the fastest lap with 1m23.404.

Finishing 8.512 seconds adrift Sasahara took his third podium finish in third. Kanamaru placed fourth in his first Okayama race. Sakaguchi kept on charging Kohno till the end, only to score the last point in sixth.
Displaying a fierce battle with Masayuki Ueda (B-MAX Rn-Sports F3) along the way Jake Parsons (NODA RACING) completed this race again in 13rd to score full F3-N points.