Tochigi prefecture, Japan – Rounds 7 and 8 of the All-Japan F3 championship were held at the Twin Ring Motegi racing circuit. The #23 machine of NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program) driver Daiki Sasaki was victorious in Round 8. With this third win of the season, he recaptured the top spot in the driver's rankings.
Starting with the weekend's practice sessions, Sasaki maintained a lead over his rivals in the same class with his overwhelming pace. During qualifying on the 4th, he won pole position for his class with huge gaps of 0.6 seconds and 0.8 seconds over second position for Rounds 7 and 8 respectively.
Round 7 got underway at 16:05 on Saturday, under the heat of the late-afternoon sun. Although Sasaki fell to 3rd position for a while at the start, he overtook one rival at turn 3 on lap 6, moving up into 2nd position. Maintaining his pace, he lined up the top-placed machine on several occasions but couldn't quite overtake. Towards the final stages, Sasaki came close to getting past at the 90-degree corner – only to fall back to 3rd position again when he was distracted by an unsteady car in front. Entering the final lap, once he regained second position at the first corner, he eyed the chance for a top finish. Although no definite chance came along and he reached the checkered flag in 2nd position, it was a nail-biter of a battle till the very end.
Round 8, the final race of the weekend, started at 16:05 on Sunday, the 5th. Although he had dropped back in position the previous day, this time round Sasaki went through turn 1 at the top of his class. After his success at the start of the race, which he had personally made an issue of achieving, he continued to build up his lead over the second-placed machine on every lap by demonstrating the same lightning pace he had shown since Friday. At 20 laps, the race was longer than Round 7 by 6 laps. Despite this, his pace did not drop off much till the final stages, and in the end, he finished 6 seconds ahead, taking his 3rd win since the second round at Suzuka. Registering the fastest lap and getting full points for the race allowed Sasaki to stand atop the series' rankings once again.
Daiki Sasaki (2nd in Round 7, winner of Round 8)
"The car has been very fast since the previous rounds at Fuji and I felt I could have won Round 7 if my start had been better. For the sake of everyone on the team, all those who have made the car fast for every race, I entered thinking that this was one I had to win. I was a bit too cautious at the start of Round 7 but I think I made a good start in Round 8. After that, I was confident of winning as long as I was able to run my own race. This I did and managed to leave the rest behind and finish well on top. There is nothing wrong with the direction of building the car at the moment, so hopefully I'll be able to continue making starts as good as I did this time and keep myself in contention for the remaining races."
The All-Japan F3 Championship is a race series using F3-class formula cars. It is divided into two classes, for machines compliant with current FIA vehicle standards (C Class), and machines using a single make of engine produced byTOM'S, a Toyota affiliate (N Class).
Nissan, Toyota and Honda have each established their own driver development programs, and support participating drivers. In Nissan's development program, the NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program), the aim is to educate young drivers to enable them to compete worldwide and in the Japanese top category. In 2012, Nissan is supporting the participation of NDDP Advanced Scholarship driver Daiki Sasaki (N Class).
# # #