Japanese F3: Ahmed and Fenestraz Overcome Controversy at Fuji

Fuji Speedway produced a lot of talking points in the fifth round of the 2019 Japanese F3 Championship. Image sourced from Autosport Web Japan.

A weekend full of drama, controversy and a post-race disqualification dominated the Japanese F3 weekend at Fuji Speedway.

A Frantic First Race at Fuji

Ritomo Miyata during practice for the Japanese F3 race at Fuji Speedway. Image sourced from @M_Ritmo via Twitter.

Ritomo Miyata started the first race from pole position, with light rain and fog surrounding Fuji.

On the start, Miyata faced immediate competition from Sacha Fenestraz but held the lead into Turn 1.

Behind them, Hiroki Otsu moved into third place, ahead of Enaam Ahmed and Kazuko Kotaka.

In contrast, Otsu’s ThreeBond team-mate Ai Miura was spun off the track after contact with Ryuji ‘Dragon’ Kumita. The veteran would later receive a drive-through penalty for the incident.

Then, Shunsuke Kohno attempted to pass Kokata around the outside of the Dunlop chicane, but went onto the grass and spun.

Consequently, Kohno dropped to last place, as the Safety Car deployed the recover Miura’s car.

Miyata and Fenestraz Battle for the Lead

On the restart, Miyata, Fenestraz and Kohno went three wide on the long run down to Turn 1.

Under braking, Fenestraz went down the inside of Miyata to take the lead, while Kohno locked up on the outside and dropped to fourth.

At the end of that, Toshiki Oyu passed Kohno at the final corner for fourth place and then successfully defended the position at Turn 1.

Oyu then pursued after Ahmed for third place and tried a manoeuvre into the Dunlop chicane. However, Ahmed had the racing line and held the position.

Further back, Kohno was beginning his fight back up the field. He passed Ameya Viadyanathan and Yoshiaki Katayama in quick succession to move into eighth place.

Fenestraz denied Victory

With two laps remaining, race leader Fenestraz was handed a drive-through penalty. The stewards believed he’d overtaken Miyata before the start/finish lane on the restart.

As a result, the Frenchman was demoted to eighth place and saw Miyata inherited the lead, and the race win.

Ahmed finished close behind in second, while Otsu held off Oyu for third place.

Elsewhere, Kotaka and Katayama claimed the final championship points in fifth and sixth respectively, ahead Kohno and Fenestraz.

Hiroki Kokuzawa – who replace Tairoku Yamaguchi at Fuji – finished in a respectable ninth, ahead of Japanese F3 regulars Vaidyanathan and ‘Dragon’.

Ahmed Awarded Win after Miyata Disqualification

Enaam Ahmed claimed his first win in Japanese F3 after Rimoto Miyata was disqualified for a technical infringement. Image sourced from Autosport Web Japan.

Following the race, representatives of Sacha Fenestraz filed an appeal to the stewards regarding the legality of Ritomo Miyata’s car.

After an investigation, Miyata was susbequently disqualified for violating the technical regulations under Article 6.1.

Because of this, Enaam Ahmed was awarded his first win in Japanese F3, with Hiroki Otsu and Toshiki Oyu promoted to second and third respectively.

Drama before the Start

Ai Miura failed to make the start for the second Japanese F3 race at Fuji Speedway. Image sourced from j-formula3.com

Before the second race got underway, two more drivers failed to make the grid.

Following her crash in Race One, Ai Miura didn’t participate in the race as a medical precaution.

Additionally, an incident occurred on the warm-up lap.

On the approach to the Dunlop chicane, Hiroki Kokuzawa spun on the kerbs and hit the inside wall.

As a result, Kokuzawa lost his front wing and parked up in the pits, as the team had insufficient parts for repairs.

Sacha Fenestraz got the better start off the grid and led pole sitter Ritomo Miyata into Turn 1, with Enaam Ahmed in third.

Oyu goes Back and Forth; Miyata and Ahmed Duel over Second

Behind them, Toshiki Oyu was spun around after contact with Shunsuke Kohno. The collision dropped Oyu to the back of the pack, while Kohno stopped at the Coca-Cola corner.

At the start of Lap 2, Oyu started to make up ground. The Honda academy driver passed Ameya Viadyanathan and Yoshiaki Katayama in quick succession for sixth place.

However, a mistake at 100R led to Oyu spinning his car. Consequenly, he dropped down to seventh behind Katayama.

Meanwhile, Ahmed closed up to Miyata and challenged him for second place, with the Brit lunging down the inside of the final corner.

This led to the pair going side-by-side from the pit straight, and all the way down to the Coca-Cola corner.

As Ahmed had the inside line, he was able to cleanly block off Miyata and take the position.

Fenestraz ends Win Drought

Sacha Fenestraz claimed his sixth win of the Japanese F3 season at Fuji Speedway. © Pierre-Laurent Ribault

Back at the front, Fenestraz returned to form and claimed his first victory since Okayama. Ahmed finished in second place, with Miyata joining them on the podium.

Hiroki Otsu followed up his Race One podium with fourth place for ThreeBond Racing, while Kazuko Kotaka claimed fifth.

Toshiki Oyu recovered from his mistake to re-pass Yoshi Katayama for the final championship point in sixth.

In the Drivers’ standings, Fenestraz extends his lead over Miyata to 23 points. Oyu is still a distant third, but is now leads Ahmed by just three points.