TWIN RING MOTEGI (Tochigi prefecture), Japan - Rounds 3-5 of the All-Japan F3 Championship and rounds 3 and 4 of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) were held at Twin Ring Motegi last weekend. In F3, the #23 machine of Mitsunori Takaboshi took three successive victories while in FCJ, the #14 car with Kiyoto Fujinami aboard improved on his 5th place in qualifying for Round 4 to take 3rd place and earn his first-ever podium finish.
In what was the second meeting for both F3 and FCJ, three F3 races and two FCJ races were held. With the purpose of carrying out revenge, FCJ's Fujinami, who at the last meeting took pole position twice in a row but failed to perform to the best of his abilities in the races, showed great running in practice on the 10th (Friday). In pre-qualifying practice, F3's Takaboshi also recorded a time over one second faster than the next fastest driver. Drivers of NDDP, the program to develop young driver by Nissan, were all looking strong going into qualifying.
In qualifying for F3, Takaboshi has taken pole position in every race so far this season, from the opener to Round 5. In FCJ, Fujinami qualified 4th in Round three and 5th in Round four.
Rain started falling around noon on Saturday the 11th as Round 3 got underway, and racers drove under wet conditions for the first time on the weekend. Takaboshi and Fujinami were running in their respective categories for the first time at Motegi in wet condition. After trying a careful start to avoid wheel spin, Fujinami started off a little bit slow in FCJ, but running his laps while focusing on avoiding mistakes under slippery conditions, he finished the race in 5th place. Takaboshi maintained the lead in F3 at the start, widening the gap between his and the following car in the opening stages, and capturing his 3rd win of the season.
The next day (the 12th) saw beautiful clear skies with plenty of strong sunshine from morning. FCJ, starting at 8:15 a.m., saw water from the previous day left over on parts of the track, but both F3 races were fought out under dry conditions.
Starting out in 5th place from qualifying, FCJ's Fujinami advanced to 3rd place during the opening lap. Towards the end of the race, he was pressured from behind by a rival, and a fierce battle for the podium ensued. However, checking his pursuer and defending his position to the end, he crossed the finish line and was able to mount the podium, a personal first.
Two F3 races were held on the 12th. In Round 4, starting at 12:30 p.m., Takaboshi opened a huge gap of close to 20 seconds between his and the following car, maintaining his consecutive win record. In Round 5, which started just as the shadows began to lengthen at 4:10pm, the balance on his car collapsed, keeping him from upping his pace and leading to a rough race. However, defending his leading position until the end, he marked his 5th win of the season. With this, Takaboshi has racked up 5 lights-to-flag victories since the opening race, and has also set a record for fastest lap.
Mitsunori Takaboshi (F3 Round 3: winner, Round 4: winner, Round 5: winner)
"Round 3 became a wet race. Although it was the first time for me to race in the wet in F3, the car was in great condition so there wasn't too much I was worried about. While I was thinking, 'I should just get off to a normal start', I managed to get a good start so I was able to build a gap from the beginning. On the contrary, in Round 4 I messed up the start so I faced the fifth race with the start issue on my mind, but in that race too, I was able to get off to a good start again. However, my car became quite unbalanced and I wasn't able to pick up the pace and it developed into being a tough race - different to anything I had experienced before. Despite all this, I was able to hold on to the top position and win so it was fantastic."
Kiyoto Fujinami (FCJ Round 3: 5th, Round 4: 3rd)
"In the joint test the car behaved comparatively well but in qualifying I wasn't able to bring together my best driving within the limited time of 15 minutes and so finished 4th and 5th. At the start of Round 3, the engine stalled and I unfortunately dropped places and finished without being able to get on the podium. I was therefore thinking I would like to somehow get on the podium in the fourth race. Consequently, by the end of the first lap I had picked up two places and was able to get into a podium position and then at the end of the race, I was pressed by the driver behind me, but was able to firmly hold on to my position. At the end of the opening race I was overtaken and ended up 4th so this time I drove deciding to try to concentrate on chasing the driver in front and not worry about what's going on behind at all. I'm very happy to be able to get up on the podium at last but the pace of the two cars in front was faster than me and so it ended up being a disappointing race. I will try hard to bridge this gap at the next race."
All-Japan Formula 3 Championship Rd.3
|1||23||S Road NDDP F3||Mitsunori Takaboshi||29'03.497|
|2||38||PTT SPIRIT F307||Nanin Indra-Payoong||4.192|
|3||19||KCMG F308||Ryosuke Takehira||11.038|
All-Japan Formula 3 Championship Rd.4
|1||23||S Road NDDP F3||Mitsunori Takaboshi||25'49.917|
|2||19||KCMG F308||Ryosuke Takehira||19.433|
|3||38||PTT SPIRIT F307||Nanin Indra-Payoong||21.611|
All-Japan Formula 3 Championship Rd.5
|1||23||S Road NDDP F3||Mitsunori Takaboshi||36'29.529|
|2||38||PTT SPIRIT F307||Nanin Indra-Payoong||0.930|
|3||19||KCMG F308||Ryosuke Takehira||22.671|
Formula Challenge Japan Rd.3
|1||1||FTRS FCJ||Kenta Yamashita||25'12.344|
|2||7||FTRS PTT||Nanin Indra-Payoong||9.925|
|3||5||HFDP/SRS scholaraship /Kochira R||Keishi Ishikawa||20.026|
|5||14||NDDP FCJ||Kiyoto Fujinami||27.069|
Formula Challenge Japan Rd.4
|1||4||HFDP/SRS scholaraship /Kochira R||Tsubasa Takahashi||34'44.744|
|2||9||FTRS SCHOLARASHIP SMR||Shinya Sean Michimi||8.149|
|3||14||NDDP FCJ||Kiyoto Fujinami||12.291|
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