Takeshi Matsumoto, the reigning champion of TCR Japan’s Sunday Series, scored an outstanding victory in Motegi’s Race 2 that opened the season after the cancellation of the first race at Sugo.
For the whole 11 laps, Matsumoto put in a great defensive drive to keep at bay Takuro Shinohara, the winner of yesterday’s Saturday Series. The pair delivered a thrilling fight and made contact several times and eventually Shinohara had to settle in second. Ryo Shimono encored her performance from yesterday’s Race 1 and collected another third place.
After claiming pole position, beating Shinohara by six thousandths of a second, Matsumoto was faster than his rival at the start and took the lead, while Shimono kept her third place ahead of Resshu Shioya and ‘Hirobon’ who had passed Hideki Nakahara and Mineki Okura for P4 and P5.
The two leaders pulled away, as Nakahara was given a drive-through for jump-start, while Shioya, ‘Hirobon’ and Okura began fighting for P4.
Shinohara stuck on the tail of Matsumoto’s car, trying to find a gap at every corner, but the Team Wakayama driver was always able to close the door. The fight heated up during the two final laps, when Matsumoto’s Volkswagen Golf and Shinohara’s Audi ran abreast, swapping paints three or four times. Matsumoto didn’t give up and crossed the finishing line one second ahead of Shinohara, with Shimono completing the podium and Shioya in fourth position ahead of ‘Hirobon’ and Okura.
TCR Japan will return into action on 26/27 September at Okayama.
1. Takeshi Matsumoto (Team Wakayama, Volkswagen Golf GTI), 11 laps
2. Takuro Shinohara (Hitotsuyama Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 1.035
3. Ryo Shimono (Drago Racing, Honda Civic Type R), 3.867
4. Resshu Shioya (Team G/Motion, Honda Civic Type R), 11.071
5. ‘Hirobon’ (Birth Racing Project, Volkswagen Golf GTI), 11.799
Championship points – Sunday series
1. Takeshi Matsumoto 30; 2. Takuro Shinohara 22; 3. Ryo Shimono 18
Picture: TCR Japan