TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson prepared for title showdown in Suzuka

During 2019, TCR Talk will be following the progress of the various British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad. We continue this series with Matt Howson, who is competing in the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series for KCMG Honda…

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series continued its maiden season of competition, with the fourth weekend of action taking place at Okayama. Here is the TCR Talk roundup of Matt’s performance at the Okayama International Circuit, where race one took place on Saturday and race two took place on Sunday…

Race One at Okayama…

Credit: TCR Japan

Takuro Shinohara claimed his maiden win in the first race of the weekend at Okayama. the win also marked the first victory for Audi in the series, which became the fourth brand this year.

Shinohara made good use of the pole position and took the lead. Shuji Maejima, who was on the front row alongside him made a poor start, which gave Yu Kanamaru the chance to move progress from fifth on the grid into second. Maejima, Matthew Howson and Shogo Mitsuyama entered three abreast into the first turn, resulting in all three drivers clashing and Howson being spun off.

Maejima then overtook Kanamaru for second, but he had to serve a drive-through for the turn one incident and dropped at the back, behind Howson. Mitsuyama was also given a drive-through for the collision after the start later in the race.

Shinohara pulled away, while Kanamru retained second place after holding off the assaults from Hirobon. Hirobon later lost third position to Takeshi Matsumoto who completed the podium behind Shinohara and Kanamaru. Howson and Maejima managed to recover to seventh and eighth places respectively.

In the standings, Kanamaru leads by twelve points over Matsumoto with Mitsuyama in third position, twenty-four points behind. Shinohara is one point behind Mitsuyama with Howson five points behind Shinohara.

Race Two at Okayama…

Credit: TCR Japan

Takuro Shinohara followed up his Saturday race win by taking the Sunday race win, which in turn propelled him on top of the drivers standings.

The Hitotsuyama Racing driver made a poor start from pole position and dropped to fourth, while Shuji Maejima took the lead after he nearly collided with Shogo Mitsuyama at the end of the pit straight. Yu Kanamaru moved into third place, however he was passed by Shinohara during the first lap.

Shinohara passed Mitsuyama on lap two for second place and then began closing the gap to Maejima, overtaking him for the lead on lap three. Matsumoto passed Howson for fifth place on lap three, while Hirobon served a drive-through for jump-start.

Matsumoto moved into fourth place after passing Kanamaru on lap six and then set about trying to pass Mitsuyama for third place. KCMG Gentleman driver and former WTCC racer Yukinori Taniguchi overtook Yoshiki for seventh overall towards the end of the race.

Shinohara controlled the final laps to take his second win with Maejima four seconds behind in second place. Mitsuyama managed to keep Matsumoto at bay to finish third place, while Kanamaru beat Howson for fifth position.

Howson’s thoughts ahead of Suzuka…

Credit: TCR Japan

With only one event left, the title fight is red hot with six drivers covered by twenty-four points. Shinohara leads the standings with Matsumoto one point behind. Kanamaru and Mitsuyama are equal third on points, eleven behind Matsumoto with Maejima lies in fifth position fifteen points behind the leader and nine points ahead of Howson.

With KCMG running three cars this weekend in their WTCR program as Jim Ka To makes a wildcard appearance alongside Tiago Monteiro and Attila Tassi. Howson will be joined by both Yukinori Taniguchi and team boss Paul Ip in the TCR Japan finale. With the car updated with new parts after recent on-track battles, the British driver is ready to fight for the title.

“The season finale is here and at arguably the best circuit – Suzuka. The championship is going down to the wire and we’ve got some exciting new parts for my Honda, so we’re ready for an all-out fight,” explained Howson.

“The weather may be unpredictable so as ever we’ll be prepared for anything. I’m looking forward to a close battle and will race with all my strength.”

TCR Talk will be following Matt Howson as he competes in one of the newest TCR Series that is part of the Global TCR Family.

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

All images are used in this blog are courtesy of KCMG / TCR Japan unless otherwise credited.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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