Takeshi Matsumoto completed a triumphant return to TCR Japan with yet another victory in the third race at Sportsland Sugo. After having stalled the engine at the start of the two previous races, Takuro Shinohara took a decent get away and finished second, while Ai Miura completed the podium.
After claiming his third pole position of the weekend, Matsumoto was the better starter once again, while Shinohara avoided stalling the engine, but was pipped into Turn 1 by ‘Hirobon’ who was fourth on the grid.
However, during the first lap Shinohara retook the second position and began chasing Matsumoto. The leading pair pulled away, while ‘Hirobon’ was closely followed by Miura and Kato.
‘Hirobon’ struggled to keep Miura at bay; their cars ran abreast at the beginning of lap 5, but Miura went wide and ‘Hirobon’ retained the third position. Right behind, Masanobu Kato and Masayoshi Oyama took advantage from the fight to close the gap.
Miura made another attempt at the end of lap 7 and finally passed ‘Hirobon’ on the pit straight. She was then able to pull away, leaving ‘Hirobon’ to grapple with the trio of Kato, Oyama and ‘Mototino’.
Up front, after keeping Shinohara at bay for several lap, Matsumoto built a three-second gap and went to score his third victory of the weekend, while Miura completed the podium far behind Shinohara.
Further behind, ‘Hirobon’ retained the fourth position beating Kato narrowly on the finish line, while ‘Mototino’ spun in the attempt to pass Oyama for P6.
In the Sunday Series’ standings, despite he missed the first two events of the season, Matsumoto has jumped to second only seven points behind ‘Hirobon’.
The next event of TCR Japan will be at Motegi Twin Ring on August 28/29.
Sugo – Race 3
1. Takeshi Matsumoto (Birth Racing Project, Volkswagen Golf GTI), 17 laps
2. Takuro Shinohara (Hitotsuyama Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 4.536
3. Ai Miura (DOME Racing, Honda Civic Type R FK8), 27.268
4. ‘Hirobon’ (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA), 34.882
5. Masanobu Kato (Team Mars, Audi RS 3 LMS), 35.306
Championship points – Sunday series
1. ‘Hirobon’ 67 pts; 2. T. Matsumoto 60; 3. M. Kato 47
Picture: TCR Japan