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August 20, 2016@Round.11 Motegi

Mardenborough wins a head-to-head match-up with Makino
F3-N: DRAGON claims his maiden victory in 58 races

Jann Mardenborough celebrate with pose for "Usain bolt"

The day after Friday’s practice sessions in fine weather it rained in the morning of August 20 for 2016 Japanese Formula 3 sixth event at Twin Ring Motegi.

Makino takes his first pole position in the championship

With Tadasuke Makino in TODA FIGHTEX at the head drivers went out on track one after another at 10:35 am trying to post as good times as possible for 10 minutes in a driving rain under fast moving clouds. In a strong performance similar to the practice session on Thursday in wet conditions the Toda Racing pair would proceed to set the pace in the Rd11 qualifying.
With his competitive advantage in wet conditions Makino immediately topped the leader board with a time of 2m02.440 and improved it to 2m01.545 on his second lap. While Keishi Ishikawa (in TODA FIGHTEX), Sho Tsuboi (ZENT TOM’S F314) and Yann Mardenborough (B-MAX NDDP F3) each posted 2m02 level with three minutes remaining he retained the top spot to take his long-awaited first pole position. The second place went to Mardenborough – who reduced his time to 2m01.763 on the chequered lap – ahead of Tsuboi and Ishikawa. Significantly improving his times in the latter stages Katayama put his Petit LM RACING in top spot of F3-N.
The qualifying for Rd 12 race that was started at 11:05 am still in the driving rain with Makino in front again saw each car with changed set-up improve times from first lap.
Makino quickly posted under 2m02 secs while the TEAM TOM’S pairs did better times with Tsuboi briefly topping the leaderboard with a time of 2m01.346, which would soon be beaten by Kenta Yamashita (ZENT TOM’S F312)’s 2m01.320. However, it was Mardenborough who ended up securing a pole position on the chequered lap with a time of 2m00.794, the only driver achieving under 2m01 secs. Katayama also bettered his times on the chequered lap to secure a F3-N class pole from DRAGON (B-Max Racing F306).

A sudden rain turns the track into wet conditions at once

Start of Japanese Formula 3 Round 11

During the pit-walk after the qualifyings the track turned into dry conditions at once as the sky started to clear up. The Super Formula’s qualifying and the N-One Owner’s Cup race both took place in dry conditions, and the track still remained dry at 4:20 pm when it was opened for Rd 11 race of 14 laps.
The formation lap was scheduled to start at 4:45 pm, but it was decided that the race would begin behind the safety car due to a heavy rain that suddenly started at 4:38 pm in the direction of the 90 deg. Corner, forcing all the cars to hurriedly change to wet rubber on the grid.
With the rain intensifying at Twin Ring Motegi the start of the race was 10 minutes delayed. While it was getting much better at 5:05 pm when the race finally started the track conditions were completely wet. Kizuku Hirota’s Albirex F306 TLM in 13th on the grid was forced to return to the pit as the engine did not start due to a starter failure.
As the race got underway properly on lap two with the safety car pulled in Makino used a solid advantage he had earned over Mardenborough to take a lead while the B-Max driver closely followed ahead of Tsuboi and Ishikawa.

A head-to-head match-up between Makino and Mardenborough decided in an instant

Tadasuke Makino / TODA FIGHTEX

Enjoying more than two seconds up on Tsuboi in third place the lead two proceeded to play a head-to-head match-up as early as on lap two, Mardenborough having his car ready to overtake Makino while keeping the gap less than one second throughout the race.
In the closing stages Makino would be under mounting pressure as Mardenborough whittled the gap to 0.756 secs a lap seven and 0.667 secs a lap later and posted a best time of 2m01.483 on lap nine. On the run down to the 90 deg. Corner on lap 11 Mardenborough challenged the inside of Makino as the race leader slightly ran off the racing line, a daring hard-braking for the Brit in the slippery conditions eventually moving him up to the top spot.

Sho Tsuboi / ZENT TOM'S F314

Once setting the fastest lap of 2m00.092 on lap 12 Mardenborough pulled away to claim the chequered flag at the front and score his third win of the season following the wins in wet Okayama and the Rd 9 race. Makino failed to clinch a first win but notched his second runner-up finish ahead of a persistent pursuer Tsuboi. Yamashita placed fifth behind Ishikawa to hold on to the second place in the overall standings, with Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F312) rounding out the top six.

 

F3-N: A long coveted first victory for DRAGON

DRAGON/B-Max Racing F306

Having started from first on the F3-N grid Katayama ran out of the track at the hairpin on lap three just after the safety car period, ceding the spot to DRAGON. Behind them Alex Yang (ALEX YANG Hanashima F3) also ran out of the track at the hairpin on lap five, allowing Hirota – who had resumed in third place after managing to start the engine – to move up to second.
Without once being distracted DRAGON held firm to the chequered flag with a comfortable 4.760 secs lead from Hirota. Katayama finished third after closely chasing Hirota to the end.
Indeed it was DRAGON’s first victory in 58 races since his first F3-N participation in 2013. The B-Max driver expressed his delight with his fist in the air as he took the chequered flag. Even people from the other teams came to him to convey their congratulations.

Result & Entry List PDF