August 18, 2019 Rd 18 Twin Ring Motegi

Sacha Fenestraz clinches title with eighth win and becomes the last Japanese F3 champion

Sacha Fenestraz (B-Max Racing with motopark)

 Sacha Fenestraz in B-Max Racing with motopark F3 clinched title on his Japanese Formula 3 debut after keeping cool to fend off his championship rival Ritomo Miyata (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) for his eighth win.

 Having come to the title showdown on fresh rubber saved for this Race 3 of the Motegi event Miyata could only finish second ahead of Hiroki Otsu (ThreeBond F318).

■The race sees a lead battle and a dogfight over fourth spot

 According to the finishing order of Rd 16 Fenestraz had secured pole position with Miyata, the runner-up in the standings as a fellow front-row starter, followed by Toshiki Oyu (TODA FIGHTEX), Otsu, Ukyo Sasahara (B-Max Racing with motopark F3) and Yoshiaki Katayama (YTB by Carlin).

 With the air and track temperatures beginning to fall as the sun went down the formation lap of Rd 18 started at 4:45 pm for the longest 20 laps of this weekend.

 Fenestraz retained the top spot off the line and proceeded to extend the lead while a fast-starting Oyu went side-by-side with Miyata through the first bends, but the TOM’S driver defended his second place.

 Sasahara got rear-ended by Katayama as he dived down the inside of Oyu in fourth into turn five, and spun to the tail of the field.


 The gap between Fenestraz and Miyata was seven-tenths of a second at the end of the opening lap, the pair easing clear of the rest of the field while trading fastest laps.

 In the meantime, Oyu was given a drive-through penalty for jump start, promoting Otsu to third, leaving a pack of six cars with Shunsuke Kohno (RS FINE K&N F318) scrapping for fourth.

 Having started from the tail of the field and worked his way through a melee up to seventh, Enaam Ahmed (B-Max Racing with motopark F3) now got past Kazuto Kotaka (Corolla Chukyo Kuo TOM’S F317) - who had also clambered from the last row up to sixth - on lap nine and then Katayama at the 90 deg turn on lap 13 for fifth.

 Katayama also lost out to Kotaka at the S-shape turn on lap 14 before contacting Ameya Vaidyanathan (B-Max Racing with motopark F3) at the V-shape turn on the following lap, dropping down the order. This incident damaged Vaidyanathan’s front wing, forcing the Indian to pit for repairs and return to the track a lap down.

 The dogfight over fourth would only settle down on lap 16 when Kohno in P4 and Ahmed in P5 collided at turn five on lap 16, causing the former to limp back to pit due to serious damage and into retirement. A 40-sec post-race time penalty was handed down to Ahmed for the incident.

■Just six-tenths of a second conclude the title battle

 Staying well out of the chaos behind the lead two were running around 0.6 to 0.8 secs apart from each other, and though the gap was briefly reduced to 0.4 secs on lap 17 Fenestraz ultimately held on for the top spot to seal the drivers’ title for B-Max Racing with motopark.

 Miyata proved himself by setting the fastest lap of the race.

 Otsu endured a lonely late afternoon en route to third ahead of Kotaka. Having started from 11th Charles Milesi (YTB by Carlin) surviving the mid-race dramas for fifth, followed by Sasahara who had been relegated to the back of the field.

 The 2019 Master class champion DRAGON (TEAM DRAGON F3) recorded ninth win with three consecutive victories.

 B-Max Racing with motopark also secured the teams’ title during the Motegi weekend. The engine tuners’ title was won by Siegfried Spiess Motorenbau GmbH.