July 16, 2016 Round.9 Fuji

Mardenborough wins a sweeping victory in a high-speed and slippery race
F3-N: Matsui claims a first victory

Jann Mardenborough/B-MAX NDDP F3

■ Mardenborough secures pole positions for Rd 9 and Rd 10

The weather forecast said it was going to be cloudy on Saturday July 16 but a practice session of the Super Formula held just before qualifying of the Japanese Formula 3 Fuji event saw all the cars run on wet tyres in the rain that started early morning.
However the rain had almost stopped before the Rd 9 qualifying started at 10:30 and each car improved its times every lap on wet tyres in the rapidly drying conditions.
With many cars running wide at the first corner in the slippery conditions it was Yann Mardenborough in B-MAX NDDP F3 who showed a commanding pace, taking advantage of his strength in wet conditions, the Briton reducing his times by seconds every lap to post a 1m51.268 on his fifth lap. “I like running at Fuji in rain, so I really enjoyed the qualifying,” said Mardenborough – who continued to improve his times in the qualifying for Rd 10 to secure a second consecutive pole position with a time of 1m49.962, more than a second ahead of second qualifier, with a similarly commanding drive to that in Rd 9 qualifying.
The front row was dominated by B-MAX Racing team with NDDP for both races as Katsumasa Chiyo (in B-MAX NDDP F3) qualified in second place in both qualifyings. Kenta Yamashita put his ZENT TOM’S F312 to third place for Rd 9. On the chequered lap for qualifying for Rd 10 two HFDP RACING drivers significantly improved times, promoting Hiroki Otsu (HFDP RACING F312) to third and Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F312) to fourth places.
Meanwhile Takamitsu Matsui (Samurai Supporters F306) maintained his good pace from practice sessions on Friday to secure pole positions for both races on his F3-N debut as a wild card for this Fuji event, ahead of Yoshiaki Katayama (Petit LM RACING) for Rd 9 and DRAGON (B-Max Racing F306) for 10 respectively.

■ Mardenborough enjoys a comfortable lead after rain

Start of Japanese Formula 3 Round 9

The track conditions were still unsettled in the afternoon with the rain on and off, and despite a sprinkle of rain remaining it almost stopped raining at 4 pm. Many went out on track with wet rubbers at 15:50 but they all hurried to go back to pit for slicks and adjusting rear wings and some other parts, while only Tairoku Yamaguchi (Tairoku Racing 28) pitted to change to wet rubbers.
Although the record lines were getting dry the race started at 4:15 pm in still slippery conditions, and Mardenborough make a good start from pole into the first corner at the front. Yamashita snatched second place with an outstanding getaway and Tadasuke Makino (TODA FIGHTEX) moved up to third from fourth place.

Mardenborough leads Yamashita

Starting from another front row position Chiyo was lagged behind in fourth, and then was passed by Keishi Ishikawa (TODA FIGHTEX) on lap two. These two drivers coupled with Otsu and Sho Tsuboi (ZENT TOM’S F314) would go into furious battles for fourth place in the middle stages, the latter having recovered after instantly losing places at his start that slid him outward. “Thanks to a good pace I was able to catch up,” said the TOM’S driver.Mardenborough was steadily stretching his lead over second place Yamashita and third place Makino when Kizuku Hirota (Albirex F306TLM) crashed into CRAGON in a scrap for F3-N fourth place at TRG on lap eight. The both came to halt in the run-off area at TRG, prompting the safety car, and consequently wiping out the B-MAX driver’s lead.

Final Lap Battle, Makino and Tsuboi

Once the safety car was pulled in on lap 12, however, Mardenborough took advantage of his front position to get a superb restart to cruise to victory, while a fracas broke out behind the lead as a sudden fall-off in pace for Yamashita allowed Makino to move up to second place and his team-mate Tsuboi to catch at once and then pass him on the straight on lap 13. Chiyo also closed in on Yamashita. “I was caught by those behind and in a chaos looking for my spot I made a contact and had half the front wing clipped,” explained Yamashita.

Building on the momentum Tsuboi charged Makino, and a battle between the pair – that fought for 2015 FIA F4 title – would go wheel-to-wheel into the final lap before Tsuboi snatched second place at the first corner. After prevailing among the mid-field runners Sakaguchi passed the ailing Yamashita to place in fifth behind Chiyo.

■ F3-N: Matsui wins an incident-strewn race

Takamitsu Matsui / Samurai Supporters F306

In the meanwhile at the start of F3-N Matsui entered the first corner at the front from pole position but due to not a good line he took would soon be passed by Zene Okazaki (Glocal Albi TLM) – who has improved his position at start in almost every race –, dropping to third behind Katayama.
However, Matsui closed in Katayama, and despite going off the track through a battle with the current top of the F3-N standings at the Coca-Cola on lap four, overtook Katayama a lap later.
With Matsui setting about reducing the gap to Okazaki the safety car was called in as Hirota collided with DRAGON under braking in a scrap for fourth place. Immediately after the restart Okazaki span out of the track at the first corner on lap 12, surrendering the lead to Matsui. “I took the inside line to avoid a car ahead with smoke, but found myself completely out of control. I was panicked and span,” said Okazaki.
Matsui concentrated on charging cars in the championship class to complete 15 laps at the top, a remarkable result in his first race ever in F3-N class as a wild card. Katayama extended his lead in the F3-N standings as he placed in second place. Indeed only two F3-N cars finished the race.

Result & Entry List PDF