Kondo Racing’s Fenestraz looked set to challenge for victory after qualifying second behind Toshika Oyu, but his race got off to a rocky start as he fell behind the championship leader Tamoki Nojiri through opening angles.

In third place, Fenestraz waited 16 of the 37 laps to make the mandatory tire change, following Oya into the pits and trailing the Japanese driver.

But a lack of pace in Oi meant that Fenestrac was stuck and powerless to prevent himself from undercutting cars that stopped early Yuhi Sekiguchi and Tadasuke Makinaand from the incision Ryo Hirakawawho left his stop before lap 30.

Looking back on his race, Fenestraz referred to May’s race at Autopolis – where he ignored Kondo’s instructions to pit and finished second to Hirakawa – and made it clear that he was annoyed that the team had fallen into the same trap a second time.

“The strategy was terrible, just not good enough,” Fenestrac told Motorsport.com. “We lost the race there.

“It was the same situation as at Autopolis, where the team called me, but I didn’t listen to them, stayed out and finished well. Today I had to do the same.

“They called me out and I believed they had learned their lesson from Autopolis. But it was the same mistake. This time I followed their word and it was wrong.

“Hirakawa did the same thing today as we did in Autopolis, which is to stay away from the cars in front, get a clear track and push. That’s what we had to do.

“But you have to believe that the team won’t make the same mistake twice.”

Sasha Fenestrac, KONDO RACING

Photo: Masahide Kamio

Fenestraz added that he knew his chances of a podium were over when he realized his team had called him on the same lap as Oyu, who was struggling for race pace.

“Before the race, the only thing I asked the team was, ‘If we’re going to pit, make sure I don’t have any traffic,’ and the exact opposite happened,” he continued. “I’m not thrilled about it.

“We definitely had the pace for P2 or at least for P3 because Nojiri didn’t seem super fast. But when I got stuck behind Oya, I knew we were done.

“It was also bad for the championship, if we had taken the 2nd place, we would have come close, but now it is getting away from us. It’s not over, but it’s a shame.”

Fenestraz will enter the Suzuki final with two players, 32 points behind Nojira and left with just 46 points from two races.

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