WTCC Race of Japan - 03-04/09/2016
Twin Ring Motegi, in the Tochigi Prefecture 145 kilometres north of the capital Tokyo, stages WTCC Race of Japan for the second time following four successful seasons at Suzuka and three at Okayama before then. Motegi also hosts the country’s MotoGP round in October and the track layout, with its long straights and heavy braking points, helped to deliver an abundance of overtaking when the WTCC visited for the first time in September 2015. As well is its oval and traditional road course, Twin Ring Motegi houses a hotel, kart track, safer driving centre plus the impressive Honda Collection Hall.
1: Honda commissioned the build of Twin Ring Motegi in 1997 to bring IndyCar racing to Japan. America’s CART series raced at the circuit from 1998-2002, before Honda entered the Indy Racing League in 2003 when Motegi gained a place on that calendar.
2: Its name comes from it having two racetracks – a 2.49-kilometre oval and the 4.8-kilometre road course the WTCC aces will race on.
3: The late IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon won for Honda at Motegi in 2004, and in 2008 Danica Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race at the oval. The series’ final race at Motegi was run in 2011.
4: Tiago Monteiro scored a popular win for Honda in the second WTCC Race of Japan in 2015, while Norbert Michelisz demonstrated the pace of the Civic WTCC by securing the DHL Pole Position Award for the opening race of the Motegi weekend, Honda’s only top start of last season.
5: Japan hosted the 1964 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo and will do so again in 2020. The country also hosted the 1972 and ’98 Winter Olympics in Sapporo and Nagano respectively.
FLASHBACK 2015 (11-13 SEPTEMBER)
The WTCC returned from its summer break with two 13-lap thrillers as Twin Ring Motegi hosted JVC KENWOOD WTCC Race of Japan for the first time. Both races delivered action and overtaking aplenty and vindicated the switch of venues from Suzuka to encourage more on-track battles. Yokohama-shod Citroën driver José María López claimed win number seven of 2015 in the opening event before Tiago Monteiro scored a hugely popular home win for Honda in race two. While his victory in the opener enabled López to extend his championship advantage, he couldn’t add to his tally in race two when contact left the Argentine’s C-Elysée with a punctured front-left tyre, forcing the reigning world champion to retire for the first time this season. But with team-mate Yvan Muller also dropping out, López will take a 74-point title lead to China later this month and can now be beaten to the crown by Muller and fellow Citroën star Sébastien Loeb. Despite starting race one from pole, Norbert Michelisz was forced to settle for second with Gabriele Tarquini third in another Honda. Like Michelisz, Hugo Valante was also unable to hold pole in race two but the Frenchman leaves Japan with a second-place finish and Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy success. Meanwhile, Rob Huff proved just how good Twin Ring Motegi is for overtaking by charging from P13 to P3 for his and LADA Sport Rosneft’s second podium of the campaign after the Russian team worked through the night to rebuild his Vesta TC1 after mechanical problems intervened on Saturday.Official Website
Name: Twin Ring Motegi
Location: 120-1 Hiyama, Motegi-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi Pref. 321-3597, Japan
Length: 4.801 kilometres
Lap record (qualifying): Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic WTCC) 1m55.596s (149.5kph), 12/09/15
Lap record (race): Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic WTCC) 1m57.136s (147.6kph), 13/09/15
WTCC RACE OF JAPAN WINNERS
2015: Race 1: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée); Race 2: Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic)
2014: R1: José María López (Citroën C-Elysée); R2: Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Civic)
2013: R1: Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic); R2: Tom Coronel (BMW 320)
2012: R1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Stefano D’Aste (BMW 320)
2011: R1: Alain Menu (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Tom Coronel (BMW 320)
2010: R1: Rob Huff (Chevrolet Cruze); R2: Colin Turkington (BMW 320)
2009: R1: Andy Priaulx (BMW 320); R2: Augusto Farfus (BMW 320)
2008: R1: Rickard Rydell (SEAT León); R2: Tom Coronel (SEAT León)
WTCC RACE OF JAPAN VENUES
2015-Present: Twin Ring Motegi