Ukyo Sasahara strengthens championship lead with sixth season victory in Shanghai ahead of home hero Daniel Cao

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Ukyo Sasahara took his sixth F3 Asian Championship victory of the season at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit with a wheel-perfect run from pole in Race 10 of the 2019 season.

The Hitech GP driver led home local hero Daniel Cao of Absolute Racing, the Chinese youngster having held off fierce early-race challenges from Sasahara’s team mate and Red Bull Junior Jack Doohan, while determinedly keeping the race leader within striking distance.

Third across the line was BlackArts Racing’s Brendon Leitch, taking his fourth podium of the season, ahead of Doohan, Pinnacle Motorsport’s Jordan Dempsey and Hitech GP’s Jackson Walls. The 852 Challengers’ Paul Wong took his fourth Masters class win of the season to strengthen his leaderboard advantage, unchallenged to the flag after rival Thomas Luedi of BlackArts Racing retired with a technical issue just three laps from the finish.

Five drivers remain in title contention with five races of the 2019 season remaining, all to be held at the FIA Grade I Shanghai Grand Prix venue. Sasahara has a 21-point advantage over team mate Doohan, with Cao lying third ahead of Leitch and Eshan Pieris of Absolute Racing.

After qualifying fifth, the talented Sri Lankan finished seventh in Race 10, having launched a powerful comeback following a spin early on in the 15-lap race.

Race 10

As the lights went out for the tenth time this season, Sasahara made a perfect getaway, maximizing his pole advantage and firmly closing the door on Cao. With Doohan, Leitch and Pieris in hot pursuit of the Shanghai-native Cao, Sasahara was able to pull ahead of the pack.

Behind Sasahara, Cao held his nerve, but Leitch was a man on the move, eyeing Doohan in third and sniffing a podium. On the long back straight, the New Zealander got on the inside of Doohan, who is making his Shanghai circuit debut this weekend, getting by and shutting the door on any attempt by the Australian to regain the place. The move gave Cao breathing space, allowing him to close up to Sasahara, keeping his rival within range but without sufficient downforce to get close enough to make a move.

Pieris, meanwhile, was running in fifth before a spin put him back down the order. He fought back though, picking his way through the hard-charging field to eventually cross the line in seventh.

As Leitch pulled clear of Doohan to assure himself of a podium finish, behind the Red Bull driver, Walls was eyeing a move on Dempsey. However, the Irishman held firm to take fifth behind Doohan, shaking off what at times was a spirited attack. Walls finally backed off after an unforced error in the closing minutes.

It was a disappointing outing for Ayrton Simmons, the Pinnacle Motorsport Briton pulling into the pits and retiring just a few laps from the flag. Likewise, there was a premature end to the race for Masters driver Luedi, while Super License driver Yu Kanamaru was stranded on the grid with a clutch issue at the start. He eventually managed to join the field, but was forced to retire after 12 laps.

The F3 Asian Championship continues tomorrow, with 11 getting underway at 10:20 local time (GMT+8). Having set the fastest lap in Race 10, Sasahara will once again start from pole.

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