In TCR Japan’s season finale at Sportsland Sugo, Anna Inotsume accomplished her mission, adding the Sunday Series title to that of the Saturday Series she had already clinched in the previous event. Inotsume scored the decisive points in the Qualifying session and ended the season with a second place in her Dome Racing Honda Civic.
The last couple of races were won by KMSA Motorsport’s Choi Jeong Weon and Tamada Racing’s Tobio Otani. Saturday, Choi’s victory was also the maiden one for Hyundai in the Japanese series, while Otani was victorious on the very first time he replaced team principal Seiji Tamada at the wheel of the first-generation Audi.
Race 1 – Choi had put his Hyundai Elantra on pole for the first time, with his new teammate Masanobu Kato completing an all-KMSA Motorsport front row. At the start, under a light snow, Choi led from Kato, while ‘Hirobon’ stalled from P3 on the grid and ‘Mototino’ spun during the first lap. The two Hyundai cars began to pull away with Inotsume in third position and ‘Hirobon’ passing Kento Kimura for P4 in lap 4. The outgoing champion clocked the fastest lap and closed in on Inotsume who was also reducing her gap from the leading pair. At the beginning of lap 10, Inotsume made her move to the inside of Turn 1, but Kato closed the door; Inotsume locked up under braking and went wide, dropping to fourth. ‘Hirobon’ benefited from the situation and began to chase Kato, eventually passing him for second in lap 12. Up front, Choi had built a four-second lead and went on to claim his and Hyundai’s first win, with ‘Hirobon’ and Kato completing the podium.
Race 2 – Series newcomer Otani had set the pole position in his Tamada Racing Audi RS 3 LMS, beating Inotsume who had secured the Sunday Series title thanks to the Qualifying points. The sun was shining when the race started and Otani made good use of the pole, leading from Inotsume and ‘Hirobon’. Behind them, Kato was passed by his teammate Choi for P5 in lap 2, then his pace faded, and he dropped at the back of the field. Choi passed Kimura for P4 in lap 4 and they kept on fighting, which allowed ‘Mototino’ and Junichi Umemoto to join them. In lap 9, ‘Mototino’ moved into fifth as he overtook Kimura who lost another position to Umemoto in lap 10. The two of them swapped positions a couple of times until Umemoto moved ahead for good. During the penultimate lap, Choi began to struggle and was passed in quick succession by ‘Mototino’, Umemoto and Kimura dropping to seventh. Up front, Otani had consistently stretched his lead and won by 6.2 second ahead of Inotsume, with ‘Hirobon’ finishing in third position.
Sugo – Race 1
Sugo – Race 2
Championship points – Saturday Series
Championship points – Sunday Series
Picture: TCR Japan