New-era Formula 3 engines make successful debut in Japan
|By Marcus Simmons||Tuesday, April 16th 2013, 08:44 GMT|
The first race weekend for the new era of Formula 3 engines ended with a 100 per cent finishing record.
The All-Japan Formula 3 Championship is the only series to mandate the new FIA-rules powerplants for 2013. Six cars started and finished the first race at Suzuka on Saturday, while a full house of seven finished on Sunday.
Two of the Dallaras were powered by TOM'S Toyota engines, two by Mugen Hondas and three by the unit built by specialist tuner Toda Racing.
Although the new rules, which will be mandated in the FIA F3 European Championship from 2014, follow the category's traditional two-litre, air-restricted philosophy, they now allow in bespoke racing engines alongside production-based powerplants.
The Japanese were hampered by changes in the FIA F3 engine regulations introduced long after development had got under way.
TOM'S boss Susumu Koumi, whose drivers Takamoto Katsuta and Yuichi Nakayama won a race apiece, said: "Although we had various difficult situations during our engine development, it performed reasonably well.
"Power is approximately 10 per cent more than the old engine, but weight restrictions on various parts and having to carry an alternator that is 10 per cent heavier are a negative factor. Also, more weight on the rear affects the balance.
"That weight on the rear means it is less sensitive to the throttle, so there is better traction even if you are rough on the throttle. It's a bit easier to drive, especially in the wet, but I'm not sure if this is good for driver training."
Koumi estimated that lap times are approximately one second faster, with top speed up by five per cent.
Toda-powered driver Katsumasa Chiyo, driving for the B-Max Engineering team, took a third place.
Toda's David Jackson said: "The performance of the three engine manufacturers in Japanese F3 looks quite close but with slightly different characteristics. This should make it exciting.
"All Toda Racing-powered cars ran the whole distance without any engine problem, and we are happy that our customer team reached the podium."
The Mugen Honda engine also took a third place, with HFDP Racing's Shota Kiyohara.
Satoshi Katsumata of M-TEC, Mugen's sporting division, said: "The performance is up more than 20bhp. We were able to run without any problem throughout the weekend, and were also able to obtain a lot of running data. We are now thinking to further increase performance and durability.
"The other matter is that although it was the first time for a new paddle-shift system, fortunately it has performed without any problem. We can now further tune it to match its capability with the new engine."
As usual, the field was bulked out by National Class older chassis using a spec Toyota engine.