Left to right: Keisuke Kunimoto, Carlo van Dam and Takuto Iguchi
PETRONAS TEAM TOM'S
2008 All Japan Formula 3 Championship
Rounds 17 & 18, Sportsland Sugo (日本語言語 /Japanese Report)
20 - 21 September 2008
Qualifying and Race Rd 17: Overcast but dry
Qualifying and Race Rd 18: Rain
Temperatures: 20-23°C (ambient),24-31℃ (track)
Circuit / length: Sugo, Sendai Miyagi Prefecture/ 3.704km
Format: Rd.17: 18Laps | Rd.18: 25Laps
Having wrapped up the drivers' championship title at the previous round through Dutch driver Carlo van Dam, PETRONAS Team Tom's were once again in top form at the season finale rounds 17 and 18 at the Sportsland Sugo circuit last weekend. Recording a podium finish in every race this season, the 2008 All Japan F3 Champion Carlo van Dam brought an impressive end to his stellar season with two more wins, bringing the Dutchman's count to nine race wins in total. With teammates Keisuke Kunimoto and Takuto Iguchi also finishing in the top three for both races, it was the team's ninth podium clean sweep of the season.
After 18 rounds completed in the 2008 championship, the PETRONAS Team Tom's have also clinched the championship title in the team category after amassing a total of 345points.
The weekend started off on a dominant note for the team as all three drivers kicked off the qualifying session posting the top three quickest lap times. The trio were also the only drivers able to break under the 1minute 14second mark, with van Dam, Kunimoto and Iguchi battling it out for pole position. The flying Dutchman was able to claim pole position starts for both races after edging out teammate Takuto Iguchi by only fractions of a second. Taking third spot on the grid for rounds 17 and 18 races was Keisuki Kunimoto.
Storming into the race lead from pole position, Carlo van Dam was able to control much of the race despite struggling with an oversteer throughout the 18-lap race. The Dutchman was able to keep a good gap to Iguchi eventually taking the win in a total time of 22:57.916minutes. Starting from second and third, van Dam's teammates Iguchi and Kunimoto went on to claim second and third place finishes, respectively.
Despite the final race of the season taking place amidst the more difficult wet conditions on Sunday, the team's trio of drivers were able to once again control the rest of the field with van Dam once again dominating proceedings from pole position. Behind him Kunimoto was able to jump teammate Iguchi for second at the start of the 25-lap race. The Japanese youngster was able to maintain a competitive pace posting similar lap times to his Dutch teammate in the lead. Closing in on the leader to within half a second towards the latter stages of the race, Kunimoto was not able to take the lead and held on to second position, ahead of fellow TDP driver and teammate Takuto Iguchi in third.
Carlo van Dam, All Japan Formula 3 Champion (Car No. 1)
Qualifying Rd. 17 & 18: Pole Position
Race Rd 17: Winner | Race Rd. 18: Winner
"Winning the final two races of the season, I think I have proved myself as the champion. After the results from the last round, I did not want to take my foot off the gas and wanted to end this amazing season on a high by taking the win in the final races. It has been a truly satisfying season overall and I am delighted. It took me some time to adjust to the Japanese style of racing especially at the start but it did not take me long to understand it and find my way. I would like to thank all the fans who have supported me throughout this incredible season; everyone on the team for their encouragement and to the sponsors. Now, the next target is the infamous Macau street race, and I definitely want to win!"
Keisuke Kunimoto (Car No. 36)
Qualifying Rd. 17 & 18: P3
Race Rd. 17: 3rd | Race Rd. 18: 2nd
"I really wanted to win the final race of the season and it looked pretty good especially as I was able to close in to Carlo. But I think after looking back the entire season, I am really happy with what I have been able to achieve. It has been an amazing season working with an incredible team and great teammates. I am grateful to everyone on the team for everything they have taught me, which I will definitely cherish. Now I am really looking forward to the race in Macau* in November!"
Takuto Iguchi (Car No. 37)
Qualifying Rd. 17 & 18: P2
Race Rd. 17: 2nd | Race Rd. 18: 3rd
"Coming into the final two races of the season, Kunimoto and I were tied in the points. However, I lost out on the opportunity to race at Macau with the results from Round 18. Naturally, I would like to race there but this is all part of racing. Despite this, I really enjoyed all the races, especially in the wet! I had a good start to the season when I had three consecutive wins at the beginning, but then the direction changed after that. However, I have learned a lot from this season, which is a valuable lesson for me in the future. Thank you to the team management and staff, my teammates for their guidance and support."
Masanori Sekiya, Team Director:
"There is really nothing more I can say to Carlo, as he once again produced a perfect race this weekend in Sugo. It's even more amazing that he was able to finish on the podium in every single race this season! As for his teammates Keisuke and Takuto, it was going to be a tough fight for that ticket to get the opportunity to race in Macau. However, they both did a great job and have really matured throughout the course of the season. Everyone has done a great job to get us the championship. On a final note, I would also like to thank our partners PETRONAS for their support and encouragement."
*Note: Only two drivers will represent the team at the Macau GP in November.
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