September 11, 2016 Rd.14 Okayama International Circuit

Takaboshi carries out his duty as a replacement by notching up his third win with a flawless drive
Katayama puts one hand on F3-N title with his 8th win

Mitsunori Takaboshi / B-MAX NDDP F3

■ Mardenborough suffers an off the track in Rd 14 qualifying

Start of Japanese Formula 3 Round 14

Mitsunori Takaboshi posted 1m22.476 in B-MAX NDDP F3 on his fourth lap in Rd 14 qualifying on Saturday September 10 after seeing his team-mate Jann Mardenborough (in B-MAX NDDP F3) ahead go off the track at the final turn while running at the head of the field, the Brit managing to return to the track but forced to pull off to the pitroad exit due to developed electrical problems.
With many of the drivers launching attacks on their fourth laps the TEAM TOM’S pair waited for one another lap again to open their attacks. Nonetheless, the slow-starters failed to beat Takaboshi’s 1m22.097 from his fifth lap as Kenta Yamashita (ZENT TOM’S F312) did 1m22.444 on his fifth lap and 1m22.307 on sixth while Sho Tsuboi (ZENT TOM’S F312) did 1m22.442 on fifth and 1m22.230 on sixth.
‘On the road’ Takaboshi secured a pole position from Tsuboi, with Yamashita in third and Tadasuke Makino (TODA FIGHTEX) in fourth. However, though Takaboshi’s position didn’t change all of the four would be deprived of their best times by post-qualifying drive-through penalty for running a yellow flagged sector, promoting Makino to second and Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F312) to third.
Mardenborough would start the race from the tail of the field as he failed to improve his best time any further than 1m29.076.
Meanwhile, F3-N grid for Rd 14 would have the same line-up as previous round with Yoshiaki Katayama (Petit LM Racing) as a pole-sitter ahead of Kizuku Hirota (Albirex F306TLM) and DRAGON (B-Max Racing F306).

■ Takaboshi gets his career-best start to set about multiplying his lead

Takaboshi leads from the start.

With the track temperature rapidly rising in the morning of September 11 Rd 14 race for a long distance of 25 laps was expected to be tough for tyres.
As the lights went out at 11:10 am pole-sitter Takaboshi got “his career-best start” to leap into turn one in front, while Sakaguchi moved up to second place on the run toward the first bend even though Tsuboi also got a good start from fourth. At the end of the opening lap came Takaboshi, Sakaguchi, Makino, Tsuboi and Ye Hongli (KRC with B-Max F315) in this order. In order to remain in the title battle Yamashita could use as many points as possible, but nevertheless dropped to sixth with a somewhat poor start.
With a leading pack of four pulling away the early stages would see a scrap over fifth spot intensifying with Hongli at the head.
A little further back Mardenborough emerged in tenth spot at the end of the opening lap after scything his way through the entire F3-N pack, and then got past Tairoku Yamaguchi (Tairoku Racing #28) and Hiroki Otsu (HFDP RACING F312) on lap two and lap four respectively. In trying to follow suit to pass the latter the Exceed driver had a contact with Otsu at the hairpin, dropping the two out of contention.
Mardenborough’s charge would be however, bottled up thereafter by Keishi Ishikawa (TODA FIGHTEX).

■ Sakaguchi takes first podium in second place as the youngest driver in Japanese F3 history

Sena Sakaguchi / HFDP RACING F312

From lap five there would be no major moves going on until closing stages with each driver trying to make the tyres last longer, leaving Takaboshi to enjoy a lonely cruise with a wide margin over Sakaguchi, while extending it from 1.771 secs on lap five to 4.531 secs on lap ten.
It was lap 18 that saw some new developments in a spat over second spot among three cars running a same distance apart when Yamashita joined in from behind after overtaking Hongli. Despite edging up to Sakaguchi together with Makino and his team-mate Tsuboi in the closing stages the TOM’S driver settled for fifth place. Sakaguchi retained the second position from Makino till the end on waning tyres for his first podium finish as the youngest driver in Japanese F3 history at the age of 17 years and 64 days.
Ending up 15.852 secs lead at the chequered flag Takaboshi picked up his third win of the season.
In the meantime Yamashita reduced Mardenborough’s advantage in the overall standings to 8 points with three races remaining after scoring 2 points to bring the total to 80 points as his title rival finished out of points in eighth. It means Tsuboi, now 17 points adrift at 71 points also still has a chance for the title.

■ Katayama claims his 8th win but has yet to nail down F3-N champion

Yoshiaki Katayama/Petit LM Racing

In F3-N Katayama nailed the start from pole position to follow the same way as Rd 13 by rapidly opening up his lead while Hirota dropped to third behind DRAGON at the start and then would lose one another ground due to a drive-through penalty given on lap six for a false start, ceding the spot to Alex Yang (ALEX YANG Hanashima F3).
With the top three gradually moving a part over the course of 25 laps the race for the F3-N pack came to an end with no major battles fought. Katayama scored full marks of 12 points with his eighth victory of the season coupled with pole position and fastest lap.
True to his notes the day before DRAGON prevented Katayama from nailing down F3-N champion in the race to keep the battle still thrilling by securing second place ahead of Yang. “I’m happy that I lived up to my commitments,” the B-Max driver smiled.