June 27, 2015
Rd 10 Okayama International Circuit
◎ Takaboshi scores his second win after beating pole-sitter
Yamashita at the start of the race
F3-N: Ai Miura picks up her third win as Ogawa gets a penalty
for false start
The 2015 Japanese Formula 3 Championship moved its stage to Okayama International Circuit to have its fifth event of the season. On Saturday June 27 two qualifyings and Rd 10 race were competed, and the qualifying for Rd 10 was the first session of the weekend to have dry conditions as the rain that had continued over the practice sessions on Friday stopped early on Saturday morning.
● Yamashita takes his fourth pole position of the season
in the early laps of the Rd 10 qualifying Nick Cassidy was leading his PETRONAS TEAM TOM'S fellow Kenta Yamashita but saw little improvements in the later laps, allowing Mitsunori Takaboshi of B-MAX Racing team with NDDP and Yamashita to post better times, the latter taking his fourth pole position in the last minute of the session with a time of 1m23.677. "The car was well-balanced, and I'm glad that I had the very good run," said Yamashita.
Lucas Ordonez of B-MAX Racing team with NDDP was the fourth quickest behind Takaboshi with 1m.23.710 and Cassidy with 1m23.796, rounding out top four, who all qualified at the 1 minute 23 seconds level. Having topped in the wet conditions on Friday Nirei Fukuzumi of HFDP RACING settled for seventh place behind Keishi Ishikawa of TODA RACING and his team mate Tsubasa Takahashi.
Ryo Ogawa of TOM'S took his seventh pole position of F3-N class as he posted 1m26.099, reaching the 100 points in the class standings. Ai Miura of EXEDY RACING TEAM placed second in the class in 1m26.973 ahead of DRAGON of B-MAX Racing team, who posted 1m27.280. "Thanks to the team's efforts to make use of previous race data to set the car up perfectly I topped the times in spite of a mistake," said Ogawa.
● Takaboshi takes lead at the start
The Rd 10 race held in the afternoon also saw cloudy and dry conditions but with sunlight through the clouds shining on the track. As the lights went out Yamashita got a good start but Takaboshi got the best start of the pack. When the pole-sitter tried to defend the position he left the inside line exposed for Takaboshi to jump him at the first corner. Having made one place Ordonez followed the two ahead of Fukuzumi, who had improved three places from seventh relegating Cassidy to fifth.
Takaboshi had already extended his lead to 1.2 seconds before he came back to the front of the grandstand, while Yamashita was edged up by Ordonez and Fukuzumi but didn't seem to feel pressure, and this was confirmed when he closed in on Takaboshi a lap later and reduced the gap to less than a second at the end of lap three. From then on the top four were lapping with approximately equal distances with Cassidy and Ishikawa a little behind.
● F3-N class leader Ogawa is handed drive-thru penalty
In the meantime, having led the class from the start of the race and pulled away from Ai Miura Ogawa was forced to pit to carry out a drive-thru penalty handed for a false start, yielding the lead to the EXEDY driver and demoting himself to the tail of the field.
In the middle stages that saw no mistakes or no decisive blows from the race leaders each was focusing on setting fastest lap to score an extra point. On lap 11 the second place Yamashita set a new record, which the front running Takaboshi broke a lap later, and the battle for fastest lap was decided when Yamashita further reduced Takaboshi's time to 1m24.646 on lap 14. However, there were no changes in the order of the leaders till the end.
● Takaboshi and Ai Miura each defeat pole-sitter to secure victory
Holding on to the top position Takaboshi secured his second win of the season since Rd 1. The second-placed Yamashita closed to within 2 points of Cassidy as the championship lead settled for fifth position. Ordonez proved to be good at Okayama as he scored his second podium finish again at the track ahead of Fukuzumi, who missed out again on a podium finish.
"I was confident that I could hold on to lead if I got a good start to get ahead of Yamashita even if we were lapping at same pace," said Takaboshi, "so I concentrated on my start, and once I took the lead at the first corner the race developed into something that I had pictured. Actually, I would love to have set fastest lap as well, but I am very happy with the win as I haven't been able to win since the season opener."
As for F3-N class it was Ogawa, rather than the class lead Ai Miura, who was drawing more attention as the pole-sitter was playing a brilliant catch-ups from the rear of the pack, posting more than one second faster times than Ai Miura every lap. He overtook Alex Yang of KRC Hanashima Racing first on lap 7 and then Masaru Miura of CMS on lap 11 before going on to take the fight to the second place DRAGON. The TOM'S driver quickly reduced over nine-second gap to less than a second by the end of lap 16, but DRAGON could not afford to give up the place so easily in order to break out of his regular third; their close battle lasted into the final lap until Ogawa eventually got ahead of DRAGON at the double hairpin. "I managed to overtake him through a space that he narrowly exposed," said Ogawa, who had come home in second place having even reduced the gap to Ai Miura to 4.3 seconds.
"I know I won just because I was so lucky, but I am happy with the result. I made my best efforts even though there is a lot to do to be evenly matched with Ogawa," Miura vowed to keep going.