September 25, 2016 Rd.16 Sportsland SUGO

Yamashita notches up a second straight win and snatches back the title lead from Mardenborough
F3-N: DRAGON scores his second win of the season

Kenta Yamashita / ZENT TOM'S F312

Sportsland Sugo was very slippery at 8:05 am even for slick tyres the entire field opted with a lot of wet patches still remaining after the rain the night before when the cars went out on to the track for the final day of 2016 Japanese F3 championship featuring two races, Rd 16 starting at 8:30 am and the season finale Rd 17 starting at 1:30 pm.

■ TEAM TOM’S dominates front row for Rd 16 race

Rd 16 qualifying that took place from 10:40 on Saturday September 24 was particularly important because the race result would be the qualifying order for Rd 17.
With all the cars spending three laps for warming up as the previous round Sho Tsuboi initially topped the times posting 1m13.491 in ZENT TOM’S F314 on his first attack but would be beaten to pole position by Kenta Koizumi (in ZENT TOM’S F312) who did 1m13.417 on his second attack to secure a second consecutive pole position. The result also delivered a TOM’S dominant front row, and gave a point for Koizumi to further reduce the gap to Jann Mardenborough (B-MAX NDDP F3) at the head of the standings.
The second row was also dominated by B-Max Racing team as Mardenborough qualified third and Katsumasa Chiyo (B-MAX NDDP F3) fourth ahead of Keishi Ishikawa (TODA FIGHTEX).
Posting 1m16.990 Yoshiaki Katayama (Petit LM Racing) also took a second consecutive pole position of F3-N from Masayuki Ueda (Rn-sports F308) and DRAGON (B-Max Racing F306), and sealed the 2016 F3-N class crown.

■ Yamashita leads Mardenborough by a point in the point standings after escaping to victory

Start of Japanese Formula 3 Round 16

Despite the racing line gradually drying the track was generally half wet with some damp areas including the inside of the grid at 8:30 am when the race started. This turned out to the advantage of Mardenborough and Ishikawa, the two closely following Yamashita into turn one having started from the outside of the grid.
Tsuboi, however, would soon capitalise on better performance of the ZENT TOM’S F314 to overtake Ishikawa from the dried outside into turn one on lap three, to remain in the podium battle.
Running in second place Mardenborough would have to fend off attentions of Tsuboi approaching him on lap eight and nine rather than charging Yamashita, the race leader managing his lead in the slippery conditions to gradually open up the gap. As the track began to turn for the better, however, Mardenborough proceeded to catch Yamashita while posting best laps, the pace reducing the gap of 2.357 secs seen on lap 10 to less than a second just past lap 15 partly thanks to encountering those left a lap down at a good time.

Mardenborough and Tsuboi

Nonetheless Yamashita kept his cool till the end to notch up a second straight win and scored 11 points in the Rd 16 including the one by the pole position to add up to 103 points while the title rival Mardenborough added 7 points up to 102 points. Going into the final race with just a point gap the lead two both would start at 13:30 pm from front row. Despite a podium finish in third and setting the fastest lap on the final lap Tsuboi’s title dream was over with this race.
Ishikawa equalled his season-best result in Rd 11 Motegi in fourth ahead of Sena Sakaguchi (HFDP RACING F312) and Ye Hongli (KRC with B-MAX F315).

■ F3-N: DRAGON claims his second win of the season

DRAGON/B-Max Racing F306

Having started from 13th on the grid Ueda snatched a F3-N class lead on the opening lap from DRAGON but would allow his team-mate to pass him on lap three as he slightly ran wide.
Although dropping down to fourth behind Kizuku Hirota (Albirex F306TLM) at the start Katayama would launch overtaking passes one by one as he had shown in early 2016, the pole-sitter getting ahead of Ueda – having been overtaken by Hirota on lap four – on lap seven and passing Hirota on seven before chasing DRAGON.
DRAGON and Katayama would run head-to-head with just less than a second adrift till the chequered flag, the B-MAX ending up managing the lead to claim his first win since Rd 11.

Result & Entry List PDF