Report "More glory for JP"
the last weekend Suzuka held the rounds 3 and 4 of the All
Japan Formula 3 championship.
The weekend started with a great battle in qualifying between
the 3 Tom's drivers and Dome Honda factory driver Hideki Mutoh.
first qualifying Ikeda was on pole and JP qualified second
after suffering a bit with traffic through the session. Kazuki
Nakajima qualified 3rd and concluded a 1-2-3 for Team Tom's.
Suffering with traffic in first qualifying, JP decided to
stay longer in the pits for the 2nd qualifying and get out
in the last 10 minutes. The strategy worked very well and
JP set the fastest laptime with a clear 4 tenths gap to the
2nd placed Kazuki Nakajima. In 3rd place was Mutoh.
The traffic in the first session was driving me crazy, everytime
I was on a flying lap I caught someone slowing down. In the
second session I asked my team to send me out in the last
10 minutes when everyone was pushing and I had no traffic.
Then I could do 3 laps which was good enough for pole, that
on saturday the 3rd round. Ikeda starting from pole had a
good start and stayed ahead of JP in the first corner, followed
by Nakajima in 3rd and Mutoh 4th. After a few laps Ikeda and
JP started to pull away from Nakajima and the attention was
all in the battle between Ikeda and JP. The pressure JP put
in Ikeda increased every lap and for a few times he tried
to overtake in the last chicane, but Ikeda defended himself
well. With 4 laps to go JP finally made a brave move in the
pit straight to overtake Ikeda and take the lead. From there
the lead always got bigger and JP crossed the line to win
for the second time in this season. In second place finished
Ikeda followed by Nakajima, making the podium all Tom's.
"Great race for me and my teammates. I had to stay
patient and wait for the right chance to pass Ikeda. I took
a chance in the main straight and it worked out, so I'm glad.
The team deserves a podium like this for the good work they
have been doing."
4th round was held on sunday. JP was starting from pole position
with teammate Nakajima in 2nd and Mutoh in 3rd. Mutoh starting
from 3rd had a rocket start and managed to overtake Nakajima
and JP. In the first corner JP had a slide and went off in
the grass allowing teammates Nakajima and Ikeda go through.
After that JP had to work very hard through the race. In a
few laps he overtook Ikeda, then Nakajima a few laps later.
The gap from Mutoh was around 3 seconds when JP started chasing
him, but soon that gap was dropping and with 2 laps before
the end JP was already attacking Mutoh for the 1st place.
Mutoh defended the lead in every possible way in the end and
never gave JP space, however in the final lap JP pushed hard
and got under Mutoh in a nose and tail battle. The duo came
down the back straight battling and JP tried the inside in
the last chicane, but Mutoh was there and they touched each
other. Mutoh kept the lead in the last corner and won the
race just 3 tenths ahead of JP. In 3rd finished Nakajima also
driving a Tom's car.
" I was happy about my start and then came Mutoh like
a rocket, I really thought he had a jump start. Then I had
a slide on the first corner and my teammates passed me. Overtaking
them took me a long time and when I did Mutoh was a long way
ahead. I closed up all the gap and attacked him the end, but
maybe I needed one more lap. My car was really great and I'm
confident we will keep up our performance in Sugo next race."