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Brendon Leitch has rebounded from a Race 2 DNF to finish a stellar second in the final Formula 3 Asian Championship race at Suzuka Circuit.
The Kiwi started 10th and made quick inroads — aided by drama at the head of the pack. In the end he wasn’t able to run down eventual race winner Jack Doohan.
It was a 30-minute affair that continued the chaos of the previous two races. And, almost straight away, things started to fall in Leitch’s favour.
Petr Ptacek won the race to Turn 1 over fellow front-row starter Ukyo Sasahara, but the duo took each other out by the end of the lap. Meanwhile, a strong start saw him up to seventh by Turn 1.
Sasahara made an ambitious dive, locking an inside wheel, and hit Ptecek off. The Russian driver failed to finish, while Sasahara eventually was handed a drive-through penalty and ended up ninth.
Leitch meanwhile had made it to fifth at the end of the first lap. This became fourth after he dispatched Irish driver Jordan Dempsey, and then it became third following an amazing passage of racing with Kiyoto Fujinami.
Fujinami had lost second to Jack Doohan moments earlier, and was out of sorts when Leitch got a good run down the front straight in his draft. The pair hugged the inside line, with Leitch’s right wheels touching the grass. A defensive Fujinami moved over on Leitch, with the pair making wheel-to-wheel contact at very high speed.
Leitch had the move done soon after, and then got promoted to second with the news of Sasahara’s penalty.
From there the race settled into a rhythm; Leitch was unable to bridge the margin to race winner Doohan. Eventually the Australian won by a few seconds over the Invercargill ace. Jordan Dempsey completed the podium.
The sole drama in the closing minutes was the failure of Fujinami’s car. He had been sitting in third, but instead he ended the race parked on the side of the track. Eshan Pieris took fourth while Jackson Walls managed to score fifth.
The series now takes a break, until round four at Shanghai International Circuit on September 7-8.
Formula 3 Asian Championship Suzuka, Race 3