Sho Tsuboi came within touching distance of the 2018 Japanese Formula 3 title with his 10th and 11th wins of the season at Okayama.
As per the July round at Okayama, only two of the three planned races went ahead due to troublesome weather conditions hitting the circuit.
The rain hit in time for qualifying, and Tsuboi took a tetchy double pole. ThreeBond’s Ukyo Sasahara was second twice, with Toda Racing’s Sena Sakaguchi and Tsuboi’s team-mate Ritomo Miyata occupying third place on the grid for the two races.
Tsuboi and Sasahara got away cleanly at the start of the first race, as Toda team-mates Sakaguchi and Toshiki Oyu clashing behind. As conditions changed the race became a case of Tsuboi being the last man standing, as those behind either made mistakes, crashed or backed off to ensure they finish the race.
Yu Kanamaru rose from seventh on the grid to finish second for B-MAX Racing. He rose to fourth at the start, and a mistake by Sasahara on lap three, in which he only just avoided ending his race in the barriers, put him on the podium. Oyu had stayed in the race and took second at this point, and looked comfortable in the position after Kanamaru also made a mistake.
Despite being under zero pressure, the next lap Oyu crashed into the barriers, promoting Kanamaru to second. Yuuki Nemoto, yet to score this season, inherited third.
The Albirex Racing driver held on to the position, marking his, his team’s and the Mercedes-Benz’s first podium in the championship.
Sasahara and Miyata spent the second half of the race in close battle, the only two drivers able to run in the spray of one another for prolonged periods without shooting off track. Sasahara won their duel, edging Miyata by half a second. Kanamaru’s team-mate Ai Miura took his first point of the season in sixth, with sole National Class entrant Jake Parsons taking his first overall top 10 finish.
Race two started behind the safety car and was a lot calmer, with the cars quickly spreading out. The wet weather was still proving a danger though, and the field was bunched back up together for a safety car finish.
Tsuboi won, with Sasahara and Miyata completing the podium. The gap between Tusobi and Miyata at the top of the standings is 59 points, with 60 available over the remaining five races. If the cancelled race is rescheduled, that will increase to 72 points.
Toda made up for its race one disaster with fourth and fifth for Sakaguchi and Oyu, with Nemoto picking up another point in sixth.
The points battle behind the TOM’s drivers and third placed man Sakaguchi has changed dramatically now with Oyu dropping from fourth to sixth behind Sasahara and Kanamaru. Nemoto has jumped from 11th in the standings to eighth.
Race 1 (18 laps)
1 Sho Tsuboi TOM’S 29m39.096s
2 Yu Kanamaru B-MAX Racing +4.580s
3 Yuuki Nemoto Albirex Racing +7.878s
4 Ukyo Sasahara ThreeBond +16.906s
5 Ritomo Miyata TOM’S +17.491s
6 Ai Miura B-MAX Racing +29.169s
7 Yoshiaki Katayama Okayama Team +33.831s
8 Shunsuke Kohno RS Fine +38.278s
9 Tairoku Yamaguchi Tairoku Racing +47.791s
10 Jake Parsons NODA Racing +1m08.484s
Pole: Tsuboi, 1m37.730s
Fastest lap: Tsuboi, 1m37.444s
Race 2 (18 laps)
1 Tsuboi 36m16.362s
2 Sasahara +0.772s
3 Miyata +1.307s
4 Sena Sakaguchi Toda Racing +1.996s
5 Toshiki Oyu Toda Racing +2.519s
6 Nemoto +3.268s
7 Katayama +3.793s
8 Kohno +4.507s
9 Kanamaru +4.873s
10 Miura +12.203s
P: Tsuboi, 1m37.779s
FL: Tsuboi, 1m39.222s
1 Tsuboi 145? ?2 Miyata 86? ?3 Sakaguchi 39? ?4 Sasahara 36? ?5 Kanamaru 30? ?6?Oyu 29? ?7 Katayama 9? ?8 Nemoto 6? ?9?Kohno 6? ?10 Bruno Carneiro 2