PETRONAS TEAM TOM'S
2008 All Japan Formula 3 Championship (日本語言語)
Rounds 15 - 16
30 - 31 August 2008
Qualifying and raceday: Overcast but dry
Temperatures: 25-26°C (ambient),27 - 33℃ (track)
Circuit / length: Fuji International Speedway, Gotenba Shizuoka Prefecture/ 4.563km
Format: Rd.15: 15Laps | Rd.16: 21Laps
Flying Dutchman notches 7th win and claims emphatic F3 title at Fuji
PETRONAS Team Tom’s Dutch driver Carlo Van Dam (Car No. 1) was last weekend crowned the 2008 Japanese F3 champion after claiming his 7th win at round 15 of the championship at the Fuji International Speedway. His fellow teammates Keisuke Kunimoto (Car No. 36) also bagged his 3rd win of the season at round 16, while Takuto Iguchi finished both races in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Though Saturday's qualifying for both races turned out to be a wet and slippery session, it did little to dampen the Dutch ace who set the pace throughout. Taking his 8th pole position of the season for both rounds, van Dam's closest rival were teammates Keisuke Kunimoto and Takuto Iguchi, both claiming 2nd and 3rd spot for both of the races, respectively.
The first of the weekend's race started with van Dam leading the round right from the start. It was a different story for teammate Kunimoto running alongside the Dutchman as the dirtier and damp side of the track cost the Japanese youngster who lost some ground at the start. Having a much better start, Iguchi opted to follow his Dutch teammate and stayed close to van Dam throughout the 15-lap race. Having led from start to flag, van Dam also claimed the championship title with his seventh win, with one round remaining. Meanwhile, having lost valuable positions at the start, TDP driver Kunimoto found himself engaged in a tough battle with the No. 33 Now Motorsport's Kei Cozzolino and just missed out on a podium finish in fourth, 0.018 seconds behind Cozzolino.
Determined to have a much better start for the second race, Kunimoto stormed to an early lead from van Dam and Iguchi. It was a lead he would not relinquish through to the end of the 21-lap race in addition to clocking his fastest lap. Dominant once again, the team's trio of drivers once again claimed a clean sweep for the round.
2008 All Japan Formula 3 Champion - Carlo van Dam (centre)
Carlo Van Dam, Car No. 1 (NED)
Rd 15: Qualifying: Pole / Race: Winner
Rd 16: Qualifying: Pole / Race: 2nd
"Having won the team championship at the last round, I am delighted to come away with the championship title at this round. I came for this and I have done it! I would like to thank everyone on the team, from the management to the crew who have really done a great job throughout the year. We still have one more race weekend to go at Sugo and my focus has not changed as I still want to win!"
Keisuke Kunimoto, Car No. 36 (JPN)
Rd 15: Qualifying: P2 / Race: 4th
Rd 16: Qualifying: P2 / Race: Winner
"The first race was definitely not my best but I had to push as hard as I could to make up the ground I lost. Form that point, it was a good fight with Kei (Cozzolino) all the way to the chequered flag. For the next race, I had a really good start and managed to take the lead from Carlo. I was able to pull away and by the end there was a good gap to everyone else. It was definitely my best race and I will have a real fight on my hands to get overall second in the championship."
Takuto Iguchi , Car No. 37 (JPN)
Rd 15: Qualifying: P3 / Race: 2nd
Rd 16: Qualifying: P3 / Race: 3rd
"Finishing 2nd and 3rd to me was not a bad result but I think there is still considerable room for improvement especially in comparison to my faster teammates. But I am happy with the results, as I managed to add 60 points to my total tally. I am looking forward to Sugo and will aim for a win, but it will definitely be a good race against my teammates again."
Masanori Sekiya, Team Director
"Every year, I am surprised by the quality of the young drivers that are coming through. Carlo is one such example. He is a good young driver to get the title. As a team director, I can relax a bit especially now that Carlo has won the championship. Having him onboard has been great as he could demonstrate his race craft to the other drivers on the team, which is an opportunity for the two young Japanese drivers to learn something from the champion. We have one more race weekend and we will aim for another strong result."
For more information on the PETRONAS Team Tom's in the All Japan Formula 3 Championship, visit the team's website at http://www.toyota-team-toms.com/
For news and results from tthe All Japan Formula 3 Championship, visit the official website at http://www.j-formula3.com/index.html