• Kyodo

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Former Japanese model Keiko Ihara made a bittersweet debut in the British F3 Championship series Saturday, finishing 21st in qualifying for the opening race of the season.

Driving a Dallara Mugen-Honda, Ihara veered off the track in qualifying and failed to make up for the lost ground at Donington Park on a day that marked the debut of the first full-time female Japanese racer in the series.

“It was an awful run and nothing went right at all,” Ihara said.

The 31-year-old Tokyo native fell in love with the world of formula-car racing when she served as a race queen and eventually swapped the race queen’s leotard for a racing suit six years ago.

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