Matsumoto makes a successful return to TCR Japan

Matsumoto makes a successful return to TCR Japan

20 August 2023

TCR Japan returnee Takeshi Matsumoto dominated the third weekend of the season at Twin Ring Motegi. Matsumoto, who had replaced ‘Hirobon’ in the Birth Racing Project CUPRA Leon Competición grabbed two pole positions and won both races by huge margins. Anna Inotsume, who had won all four races previously held, collected two withdrawals and saw her leading margin over Masanobu Kato shrinking to 14 points in the Saturday Series and seven in the Sunday Series.

Race 1 – Matsumoto was on pole after having outpaced the field in Qualifying, when he inflicted 1.2 seconds to the second-placed Inotsume. However, it was Kato who led the field into Turn 1 from P4 on the grid; behind him came Inotsume and Matsumoto. During the first lap, Matsumoto passed both Inotsume and Kato, and began to pull away. Jeong Weon Choi, who had started from the last spot of the grid after his Hyundai Elantra was excluded from Qualifying for underweight, was chasing Kenji Suzuki for P5. Suzuki spun in lap 4 and rejoined at the back, while Choi closed the gap to ‘Mototino’ and passed him for P4 in lap 7.

With Matsumoto an uncatchable leader, Inotsume put the pressure on Kato and overtook him in lap 8, moving into second. Kato tried to retake the position but made a mistake and let Choi through into P3. The Korean driver then attacked Inotsume and passed her in lap 9; the championship leader then went off with a flat front tyre and her Honda Civic remained stranded on the gravel. Two laps later, ‘Mototino’ passed Kato for P3. During the final lap, Choi’s Hyundai ran out of fuel and stopped, while Matsumoto won by a huge margin; ‘Mototino’ rejected a final assault from Kato and beat him on the line for the second place by 71 thousandths.

Race 2 – Matsumoto and Inotsume shared the front row of the grid once again, but this time the gap between them in Qualifying had been of two tenths. At the start, Matsumoto did not hesitate and took the lead from Inotsume, while Choi had a slow getaway from P3 and dropped to sixth. In vain, Inotsume tried not to lose contact from Matsumoto, who was able to create a gap. Behind them, Kato and ‘Mototino’ delivered a tough battle for P3; they swapped paints and positions several times, while Choi passed Suzuki for P4 and eventually joined the fight between Kato and ‘Mototino’. In lap 6, Kato passed ‘Mototino’ for good, while Inotsume slowed abruptly and pulled up with a flat front tyre. Kato was promoted to second, while Choi and ‘Mototino’ swapped positions until the Korean driver got the better of his rival and grabbed P3. Matsumoto took his second victory of the weekend, with Kato beating Choi to the line by three tenths.

TCR Japan will resume, on October 7/8, at Fuji Speedway.


Motegi – Race 1

  1. Takeshi Matsumoto (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA Leon Competición), 13 laps
  2. ‘Mototino’ (55 Moto Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 38.415
  3. Masanobu Kato (Audi Team Mars, Audi RS 3 LMS), 38.486


Motegi – Race 2

  1. Takeshi Matsumoto (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA Leon Competición), 13 laps
  2. Masanobu Kato (Audi Team Mars, Audi RS 3 LMS), 30.070
  3. Jeong Weon Choi (KMSA Motorsport N, Hyundai Elantra N), 30.364


Championship points – Saturday Series

  1. A. Inotsume, 64 pts; 2. M. Kato, 50; 3. ‘Hirobon’, 37


Championship points – Sunday Series

  1. A. Inotsume, 62 pts; 2. M. Kato, 55; 3. ‘Mototino’, 48


Picture: TCR Japan

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