Hitech GP driver Jake Hughes kept his Asian Formula 3 title hopes alive with another triple victory at Ningbo.
The Briton has a 33 point lead going into the Sepang finale next month, which he will miss due to GP3 commitments.
Hughes kept his 100% pole record going in qualifying, with Absolute Racing’s Jaden Conwright and Hughes’s team-mate Charles Leong completing the front row for races one and three.
Conwright looked set to follow that up with a second place in the first race, but a drive-through penalty for a false start dropped him to eighth. He’d made his way up to sixth before a penultimate lap safety car caused by Super License’s Takashi Hata getting stranded on track.
The final lap released the cars once again, with Hughes leading a Hitech 1-2-3 ahead of Raoul Hyman and Leong. Conwright’s team-mate Akash Nandy finished fourth, ahead of Hata’s team-mate Tomoki Takahashi, Conwright, SVC Asia’s Jeremy Wahome and?Emc? Racing driver Liu Zexuan.
Hughes started from the front again in the second race, and lead another Hitech podium lockout. Hyman and Leong were once again second and third, a considerable distance behind, with Conwright just beating Takahashi to fourth. Kang Ling, a winner in GT racing and a former European F3 driver, finished seventh for ZEN Motorsport.
It was no surprise to see Hughes control the third race too, which started with a lap behind the safety car due to the damp conditions. It wasn’t until the fifth lap that Hyman started challenging Leong for second, and they spent several laps tentatively yet aggressively running side-by-side with one another on the slippery track.
On lap 11 Hyman sent it down the inside of the Turn 1 left-hander, and ended up sliding with oversteer at the exit of the corner. This left him on the outside for the Turn 2 left-hander, where he completed the move before a bit of side-on contact at Turn 3 confirmed the place.
Leong dropped back after the contact, coming into the clutches of Conwright over the last two laps. He managed to hold on to third place, while Hughes relaxed up front to take a 2.238 second victory.
BlackArts Racing’s Louis Prette equalled his best result of the season in an impressive run to fifth, while Takahashi’s gamble to start on slick tyres failed and he ended up putting and finishing a lap down.
Hyman needs only to finish fourth in each of the Sepang races to outscore Hughes, while Conwright can go level with the championship leader if he wins all three races. Either way, a Hitech driver is guaranteed the title, in addition to the teams’ title it has already secured.
Race 1 (12 laps)
1 Jake Hughes Hitech GP 21m59.970s
2 Raoul Hyman Hitech GP +0.662s
3 Charles Leong Hitech GP +1.002s
4 Akash Nandy Absolute Racing +1.967s
5 Tomoki Takahashi Super License +2.339s
6 Jaden Conwright Absolute Racing +3.202s
7 Jeremy Wahome SVC Asia +4.595s
8 Liu Zexuan?Emc? Racing +5.438s
9 Yin Hai Tao ZEN Motorsport +26.078s
Ret Kang Ling ZEN Motorsport
Pole: Hughes, 1m40.728s
Fastest lap: Hughes, 1m40.956s
Race 2 (15 laps)
1 Hughes 25m21.771s
2 Hyman +5.432s
3 Leong +18.041s
4 Conwright +21.331s
5 Takahashi +21.688s
6 Nandy +30.745s
7 Ling +40.241s
8 Louis Prette BlackArts Racing +42.018s
9 Tao +53.387s
10 Wahome +1m03.173s
FL: Hughes, 1m40.798s
Race 3 (13 laps)
1 Hughes 26m25.765s
2 Hyman +2.238s
3 Leong +5.507s
4 Conwright +6.059s
5 Prette +13.193s
6 Nandy +38.485s
7 Ling +41.616s
8 Tao +47.305s
9 Akash Gowda M-Sport Asia + 47.696s
10 Wahome +59.975s
P: Hughes, 1m40.373s
FL: Hughes, 1m54.985s
1?Hughes 225? ?2 Hyman 192? ?3 Conwright 150? ?4 Leong 143? ?5 Nandy 119? ?6 Takahashi 106? ?7 James Yu 52? ?8 Prette 44? ?9?Ben Hingeley 43? ?10?Wahome 26