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September 24, 2012

NISSAN Motor Co., Ltd.
NISSAN Motorsports International Co., Ltd.

NDDP DRIVER DAIKI SASAKI EXTENDS WINNING STREAK
~ All-Japan F3 championship Rounds 11-13 Race Report ~

September 22-23, Sportsland SUGO (Miyagi prefecture)
Rounds 11 through 13 of the All-Japan F3 Championship were held at Sportsland SUGO, where the #23 machine of Nissan Driver Development Program (NDDP) driver Daiki Sasaki started Rounds 11 and 12 from pole position, going on to score victories in both races.

#23 Daiki Sasaki

#23 Daiki Sasaki

NDDP RACING Director Masahiro Hasemi and Daiki Sasaki

NDDP RACING Director Masahiro Hasemi and Daiki Sasaki

Sasaki, who had won two races back to back from pole position at the previous event in Okayama, came to SUGO with the ability to decide the championship without having to wait for the final round of the season at Fuji, but only if he could extend his lead over second place in the rankings to 24 points this weekend.
For the team, SUGO is especially memorable as the place where they came from behind to win the championship last year. Expectations for the team to take back-to-back titles are high.

Three races were scheduled for the weekend, with Round 11 getting underway at 3:20pm on the 22nd (Saturday). The distance from the grid to the first corner at SUGO is short, making maneuvering off the line more important than acceleration. Sasaki, who had finished at the top of his class in qualifying, maintained pole position through the first corner, and stayed close to the C Class drivers from the opening moments of the race. He then widened his lead over his N Class rivals behind him by a full lap, and for a time battled with two C Class machines for fifth place overall. He ultimately climbed to fifth overall on his way to his fourth consecutive win from pole position in the N Class.

Round 12 began at 8:00am on the 23rd (Sunday). Sasaki, who set the fourth-quickest time overall in qualifying, protected his lead at the top of the class on the opening lap. Two C class machines separated Sasaki from the second-placed driver in the class, and he coolly worked his way through lap after lap. Heavy clouds had been hanging over the circuit since before the start, and rain began to fall during the middle of the race, causing all of the drivers to lower their pace. While other drivers went off track one after another due to the slippery road conditions, Sasaki tightened his concentration, completing 25 flawless laps on the way to his seventh win of the season, extending his winning streak to five.

The rain that had begun during Round 12 intensified, and Round 13 started in steady rain. The grid order for this race was decided by the finishing order in Round 11, so Sasaki started at the top of his class. Though he had demonstrated competent starts in the preceding two races, this time he was a bit sluggish off the line, and was involved in a rear-end collision with the car behind. This pushed the NDDP driver into a spin and he fell back to last place. With his machine also suffering damage as a result of the incident, he was unable to show the car's true potential, though he did manage to climb back up to fifth place in his class and cross the finish line. The driver currently occupying 2nd place in the N Class rankings started this race in second place, but Sasaki leads him by 22 points. He heads into the final battle for the title with his lead intact.

Daiki Sasaki (Rd. 11: Winner, Rd. 12: Winner, Rd. 13: 5th)
"I had really hoped to wrap up the championship during this round, particularly with the momentum I had built up from my winning streak, so the Round 13 result is very disappointing. However, I think the fact that I stayed with it and completed the race and earned two points is important. My car was damaged, but it still had good balance, which has strengthened my confidence that I'll be able to take the championship title whatever the conditions might be for the final race. Though I only need one more point to secure the title, I will do my best to run a good race on my way to becoming champion."

<All-Japan F3 championship Round 11 Race Results>
Pos No Machine Drivers Time / Behind
1 23 S Road NDDP F3 Daiki Sasaki 23'30.943
2 7 HFDP RACING F307 Kazuki Hiramine 2.220
3 20 KCMG Gary THOMPSON 4.234
<All-Japan F3 championship Round 12 Race Results>
Pos No Machine Drivers Time / Behind
1 23 S Road NDDP F3 Daiki Sasaki 33'31.813
2 35 TDP SPIRIT F307 Takamoto Katsuta 1.780
3 7 HFDP RACING F307 Kazuki Hiramine 4.253
<All-Japan F3 championship Round 13 Race Results>
Pos No Machine Drivers Time / Behind
1 35 TDP SPIRIT F307 Takamoto Katsuta 39'50.220
2 7 HFDP RACING F307 Kazuki Hiramine 7.857
3 19 KCMG Matthew HOWSON 34.346
5 23 S Road NDDP F3 Daiki Sasaki 1Lap

The All-Japan F3 championship is a race series using F3-class formula cars. It is divided into two classes; the Championship Class (C Class), for machines compliant with current FIA vehicle standards and the National Class (N Class), for machines using a single make of engine produced by TOM'S, a Toyota affiliate.
Nissan, Toyota and Honda have each established their own driver development programs, and support participating drivers in the championship. In Nissan's development program, the NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program), the aim is to educate young drivers, enabling them to compete worldwide and in the top Japanese category. In 2012, Nissan is supporting the participation of NDDP Advanced Scholarship driver Daiki Sasaki (N Class).

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