Two Victories at Twin Ring Motegi were enough for Sacha Fenestraz to win the 2019 Japanese F3 Championship.
Japanese F3 Re-Branded Super Formula Lights
The organisers of the Japanese F3 Championship, Japan Race Promotion Incorporated (JRP Inc.), announced that the series would be renamed Super Formula Lights for 2020.
As well as using the FIA-approved Halo, the new car will weight around 580kg and is expected to receive an slightly improved aerodynamic package.
In a costing saving effort, JRP Inc. also stated that the F320 will share several parts with its predecessor, the Dallara F317.
Drivers Changes for Twin Ring Motegi
After missing the last two rounds with a wrist injury, Charles Milesi made his return to the Japanese F3 grid with the YTB outfit.
Tairoku Yamaguchi was still suffering from a long-term illness. As a result, B-Max Racing gave his car to F3 Asian Championship Leader Ukyo Sasahara.
Ai Miura was also absent for ThreeBond Racing, as she continues to recover from her crash at Fuji Speedway.
A recent MRI scan revealed that Miura has a bone contusion in her left thumb and is unable to compete.
Bad Start to the Weekend for Ahmed
Sacha Fenestraz started the Race 1 from Pole Position and led proceedings ahead of title rival Ritomo Miyata.
Behind them, Enaam Ahmed slowed on the exit of Turn 1 and retired with a puncture following contact with Kazuko Kotaka. This immediately ended Ahmed’s slim title hopes, while Kokata continued with a damaged front wing.
On the approach into Turn 9, Toshiki Oyu made a late lunge down the inside of the returning Charles Milesi to take fifth place.
Kotaka’s Race Ends Early
As the race wore on, the leading pair of Fenestraz and Miyata pulled a five second gap to the chasing pack.
Consequently, a long train formed behind the stricken car of Kotaka and saw Hiroki Otsu get boxed behind at the Turn 10 hairpin.
Oyu took advantage of this, and forced his way past to take fourth place. The Honda protege then quickly disposed of Kotaka at Turn 2 to moved into third.
As Kotaka tried to claim back the position, Otsu took to the outside line at Turn 8 and produced a brilliant manoeuvre for fourth position.
With increasing pressure from F3 Asian Championship Leader Ukyo Sasahara, Milesi attempted to pass Kotaka into Turn 9. However, the two cars collided and go through the gravel trap.
While Milesi continued, Kotaka retired after sustaining damage to his front suspension.
Another Dominant Victory for Fenestraz
Back at the front, Fenestraz gradually increased his race lead over Miyata and set the pace.
Miyata was unable to find a response and allowed the Frenchman to claim his seventh win of the 2019 campaign.
Elsewhere, Toshiki Oyu claimed another podium finish in third, ahead of Hiroki Otsu.
Ukyo Sasahara benefited from Milesi’s error to finish fifth, with Yoshiaki Katayama taking the last point in sixth place.
In the Masters Class, B-Max Racing’s Ryuji ‘Dragon’ Kumita achieved his seventh win of the season, ahead of Katsuaki Kubota.
Miyata Fights Back in Race Two
For Race Two, Ritomo Miyata was on Pole but got a slow start and went side-by-side with Sacha Fenestraz through Turn 1.
Despite a brief track excursion, Miyata held the inside line into Turn 2 and maintained the lead.
Behind them, Miyata’s teammate Kazuko Kotaka was third, ahead of Charles Milesi and Toshiki Oyu.
Additionally, Enaam Ahmed stalled on the grid and dropped to the back of the field.
After seven laps, Miyata led Fenestraz by 1.7 seconds with Kotaka a further two seconds adrift.
Elsewhere, Hiroki Otsu was working hard to defend eighth place from Ukyo Sasahara. On several occasions, Otsu slammed the door shut to keep Sasahara at bay.
Back at the front, Ritomo Miyata comfortably won the race ahead of Sacha Fenestraz. Subsequently, the gap between the two in the championship was reduced to 28 points.
Kazuko Kotaka finished third, with Charles Milesi holding off Toshiki Oyu for fourth place and Shunsuke Kohno claiming the final point in sixth.
Additionally, Dragon secured first place in the Master Class after finishing ahead of Katsuaki Kubota.
Fenestraz Becomes Champion
Ritomo Miyata lined up alongside Sacha Fenestraz for Race Three, knowing that he had to finish ahead to take the championship to the final round in Okayama.
Nevertheless, Miyata lost ground at the start and briefly lost second place to Toshiki Oyu, before reclaiming the position at Turn 2.
Behind them, Ukyo Sasahara spun at the same corner and rejoined in last place. Shortly after, Oyu was handed a drive-through penalty for a jump start and promoted Hiroki Otsu into third place.
As the field began to settle, Miyata began to close up on Fenestraz’s marginal lead and stayed with him for the remainder of the race.
However, Miyata wasn’t able to attempt and allowed Fenestraz take the win, and with it, the Drivers’ Championship.
Hiroki Otsu joined them on the podium after finishing a distant third for ThreeBond Racing.
A Hectic Battle for Points
In the latter stages, a three-way battle ensued between Enaam Ahmed, Kazuko Kotaka and Yoshiaki Katayama.
Katayama would then lose out after he was hit from behind by Ameya Vaidyanathan whilst in seventh place.
Then, Ahmed attempted to pass Shunsuke Kohno for fourth place at Turn 3, but misjudged the move. The two cars touched and went through the gravel as a result.
Kotaka avoided the mayhem to claim fourth, with Charles Milesi and Ukyo Sasahara rounding up the top six.
Toshiki Oyu recovered to finish seventh, while Enaam Ahmed ended a dismal weekend without points in eighth.
2019 Japanese F3 Championship: Drivers’ Standings after Seven Rounds:
|Pos.||Driver (Nationality), Team||Points|
|1||Sacha Fenestraz (FRA), B-Max Racing with Motopark||148|
|2||Ritomo Miyata (JPN), Corolla Chukyo Team TOM’s||118|
|3||Enaam Ahmed (GBR), B-Max Racing with Motopark||65|
|4||Toshiki Oyu (JPN), Toda Racing||56|
|5||Kazuko Kotaka (JPN), Corolla Chukyo Team TOM’s||48|
|6||Hiroki Otsu (JPN), ThreeBond Racing||32|
|7||Yoshiaki Katayama (JPN), OIRC Team YTB by Carlin||30|
|8||Charles Milesi (JPN), OIRC Team YTB by Carlin||13|
|9||Sena Sakaguchi (JPN), Corolla Chukyo Team TOM’s||10|
|10||Shunsuke Kohno (JPN), RS Fine||10|
|11||Harrison Newey (GBR), B-Max Racing with Motopark||5|
|12||Ukyo Sasahara (JPN), B-Max Racing with Motopark||3|
|13||Ameya Vaidyanathan (IND), B-Max Racing with Motopark||0|
|14||Esteban Muth (BEL), OIRC Team YTB by Carlin||0|
|15||Hiroki Kokuzawa (JPN), Hanashima Racing||0|
|16||Ai Miura (JPN), ThreeBond Racing||0|
|2019 Japanese F3 Championship: Master Class||Points|
|1||Ryuji ‘Dragon’ Kumita (JPN), B-Max Racing with Motopark||138|
|2||Tairoku Yamaguchi (JPN), Tairoku Racing||76|
|3||Katsuaki Kubota (JPN), Hanashima Racing||66|