Rounds 6 and 7 of the Achievement Japanese Formula 3 championship (F3) were held at Fuji Speedway. In Round 7, Nissan Driver Development Program (NDDP) member Daiki Sasaki (#22) took 2nd place, equaling his best result in the category.
In strong sunshine and summer-like conditions, the first qualifying session for F3 took place in the morning of Saturday, July 16th. Sasaki ended this session in 4th place, used to determine the starting order for Round 6, and then went one better in the second qualifying session, deciding the starting grid for Round 7. Meanwhile, Katsumasa Chiyo in the #23 machine finished the sessions in 7th and 5th places respectively.
Round 6 got underway at midday, and immediately Chiyo leapt ahead by three positions to settle into fourth followed by Sasaki who had allowed him past and now ran fifth. Chiyo passed one more car at the hairpin, jumping to third and within sight of the podium. However, on lap 8 he was pushed wide at Coca Cola corner, dropping back to 4th place. The brief off caused him to lose over a second to his rival, but he had slashed that gap to 0.5 seconds by the flag. Sasaki spun on lap 2 at Coca Cola and became stuck in a line of cars, disturbing his car's overall balance. Despite losing a few positions, he recovered to sixth by the finish.
Round 7 started at 10:30 on Sunday morning, July 17th. Accidents and spins occurred right after the lights went out, and there was contact between a number of cars at the first corner. This disruption meant a huge change in the running order in the middle of the pack. Chiyo had contact from the machine next to him, which had lost control. With damage to his front wing, he retired from the race instantly. Meanwhile Sasaki passed the machine in front of him on the opening lap at Dunlop corner to move into 2nd. Over the ensuing laps he closed the gap to the leader to under one second, until backing off to allow some Championship Class machines through, those that had come back after the earlier melee. He then had a close-fought battle with the 3rd-placed machine throughout the middle of the race, though was able to pull away later on as his rival's grip levels faded. He was on his own for the last few laps, and took the chequered flag after 21 tours, netting his third 2nd-place finish of the season after first scoring the result in Round 2 at Suzuka Circuit.
Daiki Sasaki (6th in Round 6, 2nd in Round 7)
“In Round 6, I made a good start. However, my pace dropped off a little and I lost a few positions. In contrast, I drove well in Round 7, battling for position at the first corner, and then being to overtake at Dunlop corner on the opening lap while the field was still tightly packed. I lost a little of my momentum allowing the C-class cars past, but maintaining 2nd position to the finish was a good result.”