Sensational maiden F3 Asian Championship victory for Daniel Cao of China

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Local hero Daniel Cao gave the Shanghai race fans plenty to cheer about when he stormed to his maiden F3 Asian Championship in Race 13 today on his home track.

The 17-year-old Absolute Racing driver, who took two second-place finishes here two weeks ago, seized the lead off the start with a bold move around the outside to pass both the Hitech GP title contenders, Ukyo Sasahara and Red Bull Junior Driver Jack Doohan.

Doohan kept his title aspirations very much alive with a strong run to second place, taking three points out of Sasahara’s lead and pushing Cao all the way to the flag. His Japanese rival nevertheless begins the penultimate race with a 35-point advantage thanks to his third-place finish, despite struggling in the latter stages with a yet-to-be-identified issue.

The 2019 F3 Asian Championship Masters class winner Paul Wong, meanwhile, took his fifth win of the season so far, although he was denied a battle with his category rival Thomas Luedi of BlackArts Racing following his early retirement after contact with Pinnacle Motorsport’s Tommy Smith. Smith was later handed a three-place grid penalty for the incident.

Although the 2019 Asian F3 Championship Certified by FIA title and the 18 super licence points which go with it will be won by Sasahara or Doohan on Sunday, with the runner-up taking 14 points, there is still a total of 38 of the valuable credits to be shared amongst the third to ninth-place finishers. That means much remains at stake for these young talents as they prepare for the final day of competition this season.

Race 13

A scorching qualifying session saw Sasahara become the first driver to lap the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit in the Tatuus F3 T-318 in less than two minutes, a feat replicated shortly afterwards by Doohan, who lined up alongside the 23-year-old Japanese driver on the grid. Cao and BlackArts Racing’s Brendon Leitch made up the second row, with Hitech GP’s Jackson Walls and Pinnacle Motorsport’s Jordan Dempsey on row three.

Off the start, Sasahara pulled across to close the door on Doohan, but Cao, starting on fresh rubber after a suspension issue put him out of the second qualifying, stormed around the outside of both title contenders and into the lead. Doohan resisted a move from Leitch, then squeezed past Sasahara and up to second.

During the hectic opening lap, Tommy Smith ran wide and made contact with Thomas Luedi, the BlackArts Masters driver sustaining radiator damage which saw him retire on lap four.

Sasahara began to close in on Doohan, the battling pair enabling Cao to pull away at the front, the Chinese driver pushing hard and pulling out a healthy advantage. With ten minutes remaining on the clock, however, Sasahara could tell all was not well with his car, his pace slowing dramatically.

Behind him, Leitch was on the warpath but Dempsey and Walls were also chasing hard. Walls made a move on the inside of Dempsey, the pair side-by-side and neither giving an inch, until the Australian found a way past with a text book move.

Leitch had now closed right up to the struggling Sasahara, finding his way past on the inside. His podium contention was short-lived however, a puncture picked up during the overtake seeing him limp back to the pits.

As Cao headed towards his first victory, Doohan was still pushing hard in his pursuit of the local hero. However, Cao kept his nerve, crossing the line more than a second ahead of the Red Bull Junior driver. Sasahara was relieved to have made it to the finish and to collect the crucial 15 points for third, while Walls crossed the line in fourth ahead of Dempsey. Zen Motorsport’s Yu Kuai was sixth ahead of Absolute Racing’s Eshan Pieris.

Race 13 Results:

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

Time

1

5

Daniel CAO

CHN

Absolute Racing

30:44.965

2

2

Jack DOOHAN

AUS

Hitech GP

+1.113

3

1

Ukyo SASAHARA

JPN

Hitech GP

+16.320

4

17

Jackson WALLS

AUS

Hitech GP

+18.790

5

3

Jordan DEMPSEY

IRL

Pinnacle Motorsport

+21.517

6

4

YU Kuai

CHN

ZEN Motorsport

+29.604

7

15

Eshan PIERIS

LKA

Absolute Racing

+30.543

8

33

Akash GOWDA

IND

M-Sport Asia

+51.245

9

44

Paul WONG (M)

CHN

852 Challengers

+1:12.861

10

86

Brendon LEITCH

NZL

BlackArts Racing

+1 Lap

DNF

9

Thomas LUEDI (M)

HKG

BlackArts Racing

-

DNF

16

Tommy SMITH

AUS

Pinnacle Motorsport

-

Fastest lap: Daniel Cao/Absolute Racing/2:01.393/Lap 2/161.65kph

F3 Asian Championship Drivers’ Classification after Race 13

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

Points

1

1

Ukyo SASAHARA

JPN

Hitech GP

271

2

2

Jack DOOHAN

AUS

Hitech GP

236

3

5

Daniel CAO

CHN

Absolute Racing

156

4

86

Brendon LEITCH

NZL

BlackArts Racing

122

5

15

Eshan PIERIS

LKA

Absolute Racing

114

6

3

Jordan DEMPSEY

IRL

Pinnacle Motorsport

67

7

17

Jackson WALLS

AUS

Hitech GP

65

8

8

Yu KANAMARU

JPN

Super License

50

9

4

YU Kuai

CHN

Zen Motorsport

46

10

12

Ayrton SIMMONS

GBR

Pinnacle Motorsport

40

11

7

Tomoki TAKAHASHI

JPN

Super License

27

11

21

Petr PTACEK

CZE

Seven GP

27

13

33

Akash GOWDA

IND

M-Sport Asia

21

14

77

Jamie CHADWICK

GBR

Seven GP

18

14

95

Miki KOYAMA

JPN

B-Max Racing Team

18

15

30

Kiyoto FUJINAMI

JPN

B-Max Racing Team

14

16

95

Tom BECKHÄUSER

CZE

BlackArts Racing

12

17

16

Tommy SMITH

AUS

Pinnacle Motorsport

5

18

44

Paul WONG (M)

HKG

852 Challengers

3

17

9

Thomas LUEDI (M)

HKG

BlackArts Racing

1

F3 Asian Championship Masters Class Classification after Race 12

Pos

#

Name

Nat

Team

Points

1

44

Paul WONG (M)

CHN

852 Challengers

263

2

9

Thomas LUEDI (M)

HKG

BlackArts Racing

161

2

30

DRAGON (M)

JPN

B-Max Racing Team

62

3

28

Tairoku YAMAGUCHI (M)

JPN

B-Max Racing Team

43



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