TCR Japan’s returnee Takeshi Matsumoto claimed an authoritative win in the Saturday Series’ race at Sportsland Sugo. The 2019 champion and his Birth Racing Project Volkswagen Golf GTI led the field from the lights to the flag, winning by a huge margin. His teammate, the current championship leader ‘Hirobon’, finished second at the wheel of his CUPRA, resisting a late attack from Ai Miura’s DOME Racing Honda Civic. The reigning champion Takuro Shinohara, who was also making his first appearance in the current season, stalled his Hitotsuyama Racing Audi RS 3 LMS at the start and recovered to finish fifth.
After the race, Miura was disqualified because her Honda Civic was did not comply with the ground clearance.
Matsumoto made good use of the pole position to take the lead at the start, while Shinohara who had qualified second, two tenths behind Matsumoto, stalled.
‘Hirobon’ moved into P2 but did not have the pace to stay in touch with the leader, while Masanobu Kato and Miura began fighting for the third position. In lap 5, Miura took the inside of Kato, their cars made contact and Miura moved into third place.
Behind them, Shinohara had recovered up to P5 and began to close the gap to Kato. During the second part of the race, while Matsumoto had built a huge gap, Miura began chasing ‘Hirobon’ but the latter managed to resist and beat Miura on the line by inches for the second place. Kato too retained the fourth position ahead of Shinohara.
Later today, at 16:30 local time (09:30 CEST), competitors will take part in the replacing Sunday Series race of the previous event at Autopolis, that had been cancelled due to heavy rain. The Golf of Matsumoto and the Audi of Shinohara will share the front row of the grid once again; live streaming at www.tcr-series.com.
Sugo – Race 1
1. Takeshi Matsumoto (Birth Racing Project, Volkswagen Golf GTI)
2. ‘Hirobon’ (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA)
3. Masanobu Kato (Team Mars, Audi RS 3 LMS), 18.251
4. Takuro Shinohara (Hitotsuyama Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS), 19.244
5. Kenji Suzuki (Birth Racing Project, Audi RS 3 LMS), 29.906
Championship points – Saturday series
1. ‘Hirobon’ 59 pts; 2. M. Kato 34; 3. T. Matsumoto 30
Picture: TCR Japan