Okayama prefecture, Japan – Rounds 9 and 10 of the All-Japan F3 championship took place at Okayama International Circuit over the weekend, with the #23 machine of NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program) driver Daiki Sasaki racing to a pair of victories as he led from pole position all the way to the checkered flag in both rounds.
Just as he had done in the previous rounds at Motegi, Sasaki displayed unrivaled speed from practice onwards, recording the top time in his class in both of the qualifying sessions held on the 25th (Saturday). In the first qualifier, he was unable to make a satisfying attack because of a yellow flag being displayed, but in the second qualifying session he improved on his personal best time of the weekend by a wide margin. He was the only driver among the N Class entrants to score a time within the 1-minute 26-second bracket, displaying speed that left the other drivers trailing in his wake.
In the overall qualifying rankings, he bested several drivers in C Class machinery, placing sixth overall. The question in the races would be whether he could keep ahead of the C Class drivers coming from behind - a key point in his rivalry with the other N Class entrants.
Round 9 got underway at 3:25pm on Saturday. When Sasaki pulled ahead of the C Class drivers on the first lap, he set about to increasing his lead while his tires were still fresh. On lap 3, he recorded the fastest time in the N Class. In the latter half of the race, he overtook the C Class drivers who had earlier passed him, maintaining his pace and crossing the finish line with a comfortable lead for his fourth victory of the season.
Round 10 started at 10:35am on the 26th (Sunday). On this day too, Sasaki started in sixth overall, pushing ahead without allowing the other machines to hamper his pace. On the fourth lap, the recorded the fastest lap in the N Class. In the middle of the race, he battled with the C Class machines that were gaining on him, but was able to maintain a steady course and protect his position, once again finishing at the top of the N Class, while raising his overall position by one, to fifth place.
Sasaki, who received full points this weekend for pole position, fastest laps and victories in both races, increased his lead over second place in the series ranking by 15 points.
Daiki Sasaki (Winner of both Round 9 and Round 10)
"I started in pole position on this occasion as well, but unlike at Motegi, the C Class machines were behind me. When I allowed them to overtake, the other N Class machines were close behind, so I had to drive carefully, but I was motivated by a strong desire to prevent them from getting past, and was able to maintain my concentration till the end of the race. Between Motegi and these races, I was able to get pole position and the fastest lap three times. I will do my best to keep it up and win the next race as well."
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