TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Matt Howson – 2019 TCR Japan Champion!

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 final weekend of action taking place at Suzuka, as part of the FIA WTCR Weekend. Here is the TCR Talk roundup of Matt’s performance at the Suzuka International Circuit, where race one and race two took place on Saturday…

Race One at Suzuka…

Credit: TCR Japan

Yu Kanamaru and Matthew Howson made a 1-2 for Honda in TCR Japan’s first race at Suzuka. By clinching his fourth victory of the season, Kanamaru regained the lead in the overall standings, while the second place meant that Howson was crowned champion in the Saturday Series.

Their main competitor, Takeshi Matsumoto did not finish after he was involved in a collision with fellow Volkswagen driver Shogo Mitsuyama three laps before the end.

At the start, pole sitter Kanamaru kept Howson at bay into turn one, then Shuji Maejima passed Matsumoto for third, however during the first lap, the Alfa driver lost two places to Matsumoto and Mitsuyama.

At the end of lap four, Masayuki Ueda’s Audi went off before the chicane and the safety car was deployed. When racing resumed, with five minutes to go, Kanamaru kept his lead from Howson, Matsumoto, Mitsuyama, Maejima and ‘Hirobon’.

Positions didn’t change until lap nine when the top four had a close fight that ended with the two Volkswagen Golf cars of Matsumoto and Mitsuyama making contact. They both retired, while Hirobon benefited from the situation and overtook Maejima for P3. However, the latter was able to retake the position and finished third behind Kanamau and Howson.

Race Two at Suzuka

Credit: TCR Japan

Matthew Howson won the TCR Japan’s second race in Suzuka and in the process the overall TCR Japan title as Takeshi Matsumoto secured the Sunday series title.

The key moment of the race was the incident between Yu Kanamaru and Shuji Maejima that eliminated the former who was leading the race and the championship and resulted in a penalty for the second who dropped out of the points.

At the start, Kanamaru and Howson pipped pole-sitter Matsumoto and led the field into the first turn. During the first lap, Maejima overtook Hirobon for fourth, then Mitsuyama spun, Taniguchi spun behind him and Yoshiki crashed into Taniguchi’s car. The safety car was deployed by the second lap.

The race restarted on lap five with Maejima overtaking Matsumoto for third, however, as Jun Sato spun off and his car remained stranded in the gravel trap, the safety car was deployed again for another two laps.

Racing resumed for three final laps where Maejima overtook Howson for second at the end of the straight and after a couple of laps tried to pass Kanamaru for the lead. They made contact, Kanamaru spun off and later rejoined.

There were no further changes as Maejima crossed the line in first position, but he was given a 30-second penalty for the incident and dropped to eleventh in the final standings. Howson inherited the victory, while Matsumoto and Hirobon were promoted to second and third.

Howson reflects on Suzuka & his TCR Japan season

Credit: TCR Japan

The Suzuka International Circuit was the location for the finale of the TCR Japan season and part of a very busy weekend that saw KCMG working with cars also in WTCR action. Howson closed off a successful season despite overcoming a late-season slump due to other competitors using the Honda as a target.

With TCR Japan one of two series to make its debut this year as part of the TCR Global Family, the Asian series can be hailed as a success. Howson has been part of a 20 car field all year in a country that has embraced the exciting spectacle of TCR and already has good prospects for next year.

The British driver hailed his success and also spoke more about his weekend during the championship finale.

“The final round of TCR Japan at Suzuka turned out to be one of the toughest yet most successful of the season,” explained Howson.

“Both races were door-banging dogfights and full of safety cars, so to come away with a second and a victory to seal the drivers’ title and help Honda win the manufacturers’ is just amazing. It’s also a testament to KCMG who improved the car to its best for this tough battle.”

“I’d like to extend huge thanks to my whole team, my engineers Adam and Matteo, JAS Motorsport, Honda and of course Paul Ip for having the vision to create this whole dream. After 11 years with KCMG, it’s amazing to win a championship together. We’ll enjoy this for a long time!”

TCR Talk sends its thanks to Matt Howson for being able to report on his season in the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series and we look forward to his plans for 2020 being revealed.

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 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson aims to close the gap at Okayama

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 third weekend of action taking place at Fuji. Here is the TCR Talk roundup of Matt’s performance at the Fuji International Speedway, before the series took its summer break, where race one took place on Saturday and race two took place on Sunday…

Race One at Fuji…

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Yu Kanamaru drove his Team Goh Honda Civic to a second victory of the year in TCR Japan’s race one at the Fuji Speedway. It was a remarkable win as Kanamaru had started from the back of the grid following an engine change after Qualifying.

The start took place on a very wet track with Shuji Maejima’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta taking the lead at the start but was serious pressure by Matthew Howson, Shogo Mitsuyama and pole-sitter Takuro Shinohara. The Alfa slid wide at the last corner of the first lap, having to let past its three rivals. Takeshi Matsumoto took the lead and the positions stabilized with Matsumoto able to build a small gap and the others fighting for the remaining top positions as they struggled with the wet track.

On lap five, Matsumoto was still in the lead, followed by ‘Hirobon’, Mitsuyama, Maejima, Kanamaru and Howson. Maejima, Kanamaru and Howson were engaged in a superb fight for fourth place, with ‘Hirobon’ slowly catching Matsumoto and closing him down on lap seven. On a drying track, the top six drivers closed up again and after a couple of daring moves, Kanamaru took the lead ahead of Matsumoto, Mitsuyama, ‘Hirobon’, Maejima and Howson.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

With Kanamaru opening up a gap from Matsumoto, this left ‘Hirobon’, Maejima and Mitsuyama all fighting for the final podium place. The battle went right down to the final lap, with Maejima and ‘Hirobon’ side by side as they started the lap with ‘Hirobon’ easing ahead of them both.

It didn’t last however as Maejima retook third place. Mitsuyama passed ‘Hirobon’ briefly lie in fourth place, however ‘Hirobon’ quickly struck back to regain the position by the finish line.

Kanamaru won the race, with Matsumoto in second ahead of Maejima. ‘Hirobon’ held off the determined Mitsuyama to finish fourth while Howson was sixth and retained the lead in the standings, though his advantage over Mitsuyama was reduced to a single point. Matsumoto lies in third position a further five points adrift, while Kanamaru has moved up into fourth with a gap of nine points to Howson.

Race Two at Fuji…

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Fuji International Speedway. Credit: TCR Japan.

In a rainy and foggy day on the slopes of Mount Fuji, Yu Kanamaru claimed another dominant win in TCR Japan’s second race of the weekend. This was the third for him in the season so far and the second of the weekend.

The result propelled the Team Goh Models driver and his Honda Civic on top of the standings, eight points clear of the Volkswagen pair of Takeshi Matsumoto and Shogo Mitsuyama.

Previous leader Matthew Howson dropped to fourth in the points after he retired in the early stages of the race due to a suspected engine issue.

After winning pole position beating Matsumoto by 0.045 seconds, Kanamaru took the lead at the start from Howson and Matsumoto. During the first lap Matsumoto overtook Howson who then dropped back through the field with a misfire caused his first retirement of the season.

Behind the two leaders raged the battle for the third position between Mitsuyama, Takuro Shinohara and Shuji Maejima with Maejima overtaking Shinohara for fourth on lap four. Further behind, KCMG Team Principal Paul Ip, who had started the race in fourteenth place, passed ‘Yoshiki’ for sixth.

On lap five, Maejima advanced to third, overtaking Mitsuyama, while ‘Hirobon’ was also climbing through the field and passed ‘Yoshiki’, Ip and Shinohara to finish the race in fifth position. The final two laps of the race saw Maejima stealing second place from Matsumoto and Ip taking sixth place by overtaking Shinohara.

Howson reflects on Fuji

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

“Fuji was a very tough weekend with changeable weather, having set the pace in the wet in testing we expected better from two wet races. Tyre performance issues in race one meant only sixth could be salvaged having climbed into the lead, and while battling for the win again in race two we suffered a misfire and had to retire the car,” explained Howson.

“That’s motorsport and we will focus on the remaining two rounds while we hold a strong position in the championship.”

Howson’s thoughts ahead of Okayama…

Howson enters this weekend as one of the overall protagonists as he sits fourth in the standings. He will also utilise his knowledge of the 3.703km circuit from his two years in Japanese Formula 3 in a bid to close the points gap ahead of the Suzuka finale on 26-27 October.

“After an unlucky round at Fuji with tyre and engine troubles in both races, Okayama will be the opportunity to get our championship back on track,” explained Howson.

“I went well here in Formula 3 and I expect this circuit will suit the Honda Civic Type R TCR FK8, so I will work hard in testing to make sure we get the absolute best from the car. I anticipate a tough battle as scoring points becomes more and more critical.”

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Fuji International Speedway. Credit: TCR Japan.

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson ready for Fuji Fightback

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 new for 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series for KCMG Honda…

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series continues this weekend at the Fuji circuit, for rounds five and six of the newest Touring Car competition in the land of the rising sun.

Last time out in Sugo…

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series held its second weekend of racing at Sugo, where Matt Howson endured a difficult weekend for the KCMG Honda squad and managed to maintain a small lead in the Driver’s Championship…

The TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Sugo. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Race One…

Shogo Mitsuyama of Green Brave Racing claimed his and Volkswagen’s maiden win in TCR Japan at Sugo Sportsland. Mitsuyama benefited from the mistakes of his rivals to take command at the start and then led for the whole race, controlling the return of Takuro Shinohara’s Audi.

Shinohara sat on pole position, but made a poor start, dropping to fourth behind Shuji Maejima’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Mitsuyama’s Golf and Matthew Howson’s Honda Civic. From second on the grid, Maejima was leading into turn one, but he spun off and rejoined at the back of the field.

On lap two, Shinohara moved into second overtaking Howson and began to close the gap from Mitsuyama. For the rest of the race, the Audi followed the Golf, but never found a gap to pass.

Behind the two leaders, Yu Kanamaru’s Team Goh Honda overtook the KCMG Civic of Yukinori Taniguchi for fourth and then attacked Howson’s third position. During the penultimate lap, Kanamaru made an attempt to pass on the outside line, but lost control and spun off.

Howson bolted into a podium position from fifth on the grid at the start of the first race in the #18 car, running in third for the majority of it. He came under late pressure from behind due to backmarker traffic, but he was able to fend off the attack to score his third podium in three races to retain his lead in the Driver Standings.

Shuji Maejima made up for the disappointment of Race one at Sugo by claiming a dominant victory in the second race.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Race Two…

The Go&Fun Alfa Romeo Giulietta had missed the opportunity to win the first race when Maejima spun after the start while he was leading the field into Turn one. He then rejoined at the back and was soon the fastest driver on the track.

In the second race, he luckily escaped a pile-up at the start that also involved pole sitter Takuro Shinohara’s Audi and the Honda Civic cars of Matthew Howson, Yu Kanamaru and Resshu Shioya. The collision was triggered by contact between Howson and Maejima whilst Kanamaru and Shinohara crashed and Shioya went off in avoidance.

Both Shinohara and Kanamaru were forced to retire, while Howson pitted with a punctured tyre. As the safety car was deployed and circulated for three laps, he had the opportunity to rejoin at the back of the field.

When the race resumed, Maejima was able to pull away from Takeshi Matsumoto, while Race one winner Shogo Mitsuyama overtook ‘Hirobon’ for fourth and began chasing Yukinori Taniguchi. On lap 8, Taniguchi spun off onto the gravel and this prompted the safety car into action again.

Racing resumed for the last lap, Maejima was able to build a slender margin, while Matsumoto kept Mitsuyama at bay to secure second place. ‘Hirobon’ was classified fourth.

Howson recovered to ninth and this helped him to retain the leadership in the standings, although his margin has been reduced to only four points ahead of Mitsuyama, while Matsumoto lies third, a further ten points adrift.

Howson’s thoughts ahead of Fuji…

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Howson is back in action this weekend where he will race in rounds five and six of the series at Fuji, former home to the Japanese Grand Prix and often used venue for Endurance racing. The British driver will be joined by regular team-mate Yukinori Taniguchi and team principal Paul Ip, making his debut in the series.

Having endured a difficult time at Sugo, where the Honda driver carried maximum ballast and suffered from an early incident in race two, Howson gives his thoughts ahead of Fuji this weekend.

“The Fuji round of TCR Japan takes us over halfway in the season. As in Sugo, the objective is to preserve our championship lead. The last round was difficult to win outright due to the Balance of Performance going against us,” explained Howson.

“Hopefully there will be adjustments and the layout of the track will help us get back into contention. The long straight will make for some close action, so they should be exciting races until the final lap.”

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

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 in 2019.

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson survives Sugo to maintain TCR Japan lead

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 second weekend of action taking place at Sugo.

Race One at Sugo

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Shogo Mitsuyama of Green Brave Racing claimed his and Volkswagen’s maiden win in TCR Japan at Sugo Sportsland. Mitsuyama benefited from the mistakes of his rivals to take command at the start and then led for the whole race, controlling the return of Takuro Shinohara’s Audi.

Shinohara sat on pole position, but made a poor start, dropping to fourth behind Shuji Maejima’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Mitsuyama’s Golf and Matthew Howson’s Honda Civic. From second on the grid, Maejima was leading into turn one, but he spun off and rejoined at the back of the field.

On lap two, Shinohara moved into second overtaking Howson and began to close the gap from Mitsuyama. For the rest of the race, the Audi followed the Golf, but never found a gap to pass.

Behind the two leaders, Yu Kanamaru’s Team Goh Honda overtook the KCMG Civic of Yukinori Taniguchi for fourth and then attacked Howson’s third position. During the penultimate lap, Kanamaru made an attempt to pass on the outside line, but lost control and spun off.

Howson bolted into a podium position from fifth on the grid at the start of the first race in the #18 car, running in third for the majority of it. He came under late pressure from behind due to backmarker traffic, but he was able to fend off the attack to score his third podium in three races to retain his lead in the Driver Standings.

Race Two at Sugo

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Shuji Maejima made up for the disappointment of Race one at Sugo by claiming a dominant victory in the second race.

The Go&Fun Alfa Romeo Giulietta had missed the opportunity to win the first race when Maejima spun after the start while he was leading the field into Turn one. He then rejoined at the back and was soon the fastest driver on the track.

In the second race, he luckily escaped a pile-up at the start that also involved pole sitter Takuro Shinohara’s Audi and the Honda Civic cars of Matthew Howson, Yu Kanamaru and Resshu Shioya. The collision was triggered by contact between Howson and Maejima whilst Kanamaru and Shinohara crashed and Shioya went off in avoidance.

Both Shinohara and Kanamaru were forced to retire, while Howson pitted with a punctured tyre. As the safety car was deployed and circulated for three laps, he had the opportunity to rejoin at the back of the field.

When the race resumed, Maejima was able to pull away from Takeshi Matsumoto, while Race one winner Shogo Mitsuyama overtook ‘Hirobon’ for fourth and began chasing Yukinori Taniguchi. On lap 8, Taniguchi spun off onto the gravel and this prompted the safety car into action again.

Racing resumed for the last lap, Maejima was able to build a slender margin, while Matsumoto kept Mitsuyama at bay to secure second place. ‘Hirobon’ was classified fourth.

Howson recovered to ninth and this helped him to retain the leadership in the standings, although his margin has been reduced to only four points ahead of Mitsuyama, while Matsumoto lies third, a further ten points adrift.

Howson reflects on Sugo…

“We had a tough weekend at Sugo with the latest Balance of Performance putting us at a definite disadvantage. However, the team did a great job solving some of the problems and we came away from race one with another podium and the championship lead,” explained Howson.

“Race two was all over at the first corner, but these things happen and those points for ninth may come in handy later in the season. I’m looking forward to Fuji in two weeks’ time.”

The next rounds of the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series will be at at Fuji Speedway on July 13-14.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson confident ahead of Sugo

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

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series continues this weekend at the Sugo circuit, for rounds three and four of the newest Touring Car competition in the land of the rising sun.

Last time out in Autopolis…

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series in action at Autopolis. Credit: TCR Japan

Matt Howson took a lights-to-flag victory in the first round of the brand new TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Autopolis.

With the race declared wet, the first two laps were run behind the safety car as Howson’s KCMG Honda Civic leading the 14-car field across the start line when the safety car came in. Spray was then an issue for a number of laps, together with patches of standing water off the racing line.

In a what turned out to be a quiet first race, Howson managed to keep the KCMG Honda Civic on the iskand and stay out of trouble to take his first win in a TCR car, with Takuro Shinohara’s Audi and the Honda of Yu Kanamaru completing the podium places.

With the first race running in wet conditions, Howson made sure not to put a foot wrong on board the #18 Honda, and wrapped up a stunning first day with a lights to flag victory, picking up the fastest lap in the process and confirming the Civic Type R’s strong pace in any condition.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Howson has to settle for second place in the second of the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series as Yu Kanamaru with the Honda Civic of Team Goh, took victory in Race 2.

The starts saw poleman Takuro Shinohara, driving a Hitotsuyama Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS, struggling to keep the advantage from Kanamaru, who made a great start from row 2, Howson, Yukinori Taniguchi (KCMG Honda), Resshu Shioya (G/Motion Honda), Takeshi Matsumoto (Wakayama Volkswagen) and Shogo Mitsuyama (Green Brave Volkswagen). The leader was soon in troubles, as his Audi slowed down and stopped in the pits.

Kanamuru inherited the lead ahead of Howson and Matsumoto, who had moved up to third with a couple of great overtaking manoeuvres.

Race 1 winner Howson got his head down and made sure that once again he kept the KCMG run Honda in good shape, holding off the faster Wakayama Volkswagen Golf GTI of Takeshi Matsumoto after an entertaining race on a damp track. Howson leads the overall standings after this inaugural event of the series.

Howson’s thoughts ahead of Sugo…

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Howson is back in action this weekend where he will race in rounds three and four of the series at Sugo, having enjoyed podium running pace in his last outing in the Super Taikyu Endurance Series. The KCMG driver and TCR Japan points leader gives his thoughts ahead of Sugo.

“Sugo is one if my favourite circuits in Japan and following a strong run for the Honda Civic Type R TCR FK8 in Super Taikyu in April, and our success in Autopolis last time out, I expect to be very strong in TCR Japan,” explained Howson.

“The weather is often mixed and the circuit is unforgiving so whatever happens, winning here will be a huge challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson leads TCR Japan after successful weekend

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

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series got underway this weekend at the Autopolis circuit, heralding a new era of Touring Car competition in the land of the rising sun.

Qualifying at Autopolis

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Matt Howson drove his KCMG Honda Civic to set the first-ever pole position of the new TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Autopolis International Racing Course.

After a promising start during the free practice sessions, 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winner Howson took a brilliant last-gasp pole position by almost half-a-second in the first-ever TCR Japan qualifying, on his Autopolis debut.

On a rainy morning, the Briton posted the fastest lap of 2:10.625 in the final part of the 20-minute session that had been disrupted by a red flag after five minutes in order to recover the Go&Fun Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Shuji Maejima that was stranded onto the gravel trap.

Takuro Shinohara qualified second in the Hitotsuyama Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS (2:11.050) and was followed by Yu Kanamaru in the Team Goh Honda (2:11.273) and Shogo Mitsuyama in the Green Brave Volkswagen Golf GTI (2:11.601).

Race One at Autopolis

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

On a day of firsts for new TCR series around the world, Matt Howson became the latest driver to win a TCR race when he took a lights-to-flag victory in the first round of the brand new TCR Japan Touring Car Series at Autopolis.

With the race declared wet, the first two laps were run behind the safety car as Howson’s KCMG Honda Civic leading the 14-car field across the start line when the safety car came in. Spray was then an issue for a number of laps, together with patches of standing water off the racing line.

In a what turned out to be a quiet first race, Howson managed to keep the KCMG Honda Civic on the iskand and stay out of trouble to take his first win in a TCR car, with Takuro Shinohara’s Audi and the Honda of Yu Kanamaru completing the podium places.

With the first race running in wet conditions, Howson made sure not to put a foot wrong on board the #18 Honda, and wrapped up a stunning first day with a lights to flag victory, picking up the fastest lap in the process and confirming the Civic Type R’s strong pace in any condition.

In the Cup Class, team-mate Yukinori Taniguchi finished sixth in the second KCMG Honda after passing ‘Yoshiki’ on Lap 8. the former WTCC made good progress in the drying conditions, putting his experience to good use.

Race Two at Autopolis

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Howson has to settle for second place in the second of the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series as Yu Kanamaru with the Honda Civic of Team Goh, took victory in Race 2.

The starts saw poleman Takuro Shinohara, driving a Hitotsuyama Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS, struggling to keep the advantage from Kanamaru, who made a great start from row 2, Howson, Yukinori Taniguchi (KCMG Honda), Resshu Shioya (G/Motion Honda), Takeshi Matsumoto (Wakayama Volkswagen) and Shogo Mitsuyama (Green Brave Volkswagen). The leader was soon in troubles, as his Audi slowed down and stopped in the pits.

Kanamuru inherited the lead ahead of Howson and Matsumoto, who had moved up to third with a couple of great overtaking manoeuvres.

Race 1 winner Howson got his head down and made sure that once again he kept the KCMG run Honda in good shape, holding off the faster Wakayama Volkswagen Golf GTI of Takeshi Matsumoto after an entertaining race on a damp track. Howson leads the overall standings after this inaugural event of the series.

Howson reflects on Autopolis…

“This weekend will forever be something I’ll remember fondly. I was lucky to deliver KCMG’s first Formula 3 win in 2008 as PTRS Racing in Asian F3, be part of its first World Endurance Championship class win in Austin 2014 and now its debut TCR Japan victory at Autopolis.”

“Conditions were so changeable all weekend and we didn’t always get the strategy quite right, but coming away with a pole, win and fastest lap followed up by a front row start and a P2 finish was beyond expectation.”

“Thank you to my team for the huge effort and my engineer Matteo for giving me an amazing car in all conditions.”

The next rounds of the 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series will be at Sugo on 22-23 June.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

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!!!

TCR Talk – The Brits Abroad: Howson and KCMG prepare for TCR Japan Series debut

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

The 2019 TCR Japan Touring Car Series

The TCR Japan Touring Car Series gets underway this weekend at the Autopolis circuit, heralding a new era of Touring Car competition in the land of the rising sun.

Its been a very long time since there have been 2-litre touring cars racing in Japan, with the All Japan Touring Car Championship being home to SuperTouring regulations back in the late 1990s.

This weekend the sound of 2 litre turbocharged Touring cars returns as Japan enjoys the thrill of TCR racing on home soil with a 17 car entry list confirmed representing four different brands.

With the TCR Concept reaching its fifth year of active competition, TCR Japan is one of several new series to get underway this year and for the British TCR fans, we have a driver in action this weekend to follow and cheer on: Matt Howson

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

Matt Howson is joined in the team this weekend by former WTCC racer Yukinori ‘Yuke’ Taniguchi with both men driving the Honda Civic Type R TCR for the KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG).

That’s right, the very same team that are also running both Attila Tassi and Tiago Monteiro in the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) and the reigning TCR Europe Touring Car Series teams champions.

So this weekend is both a start for TCR Japan and for Howson and Taniguchi to get some touring car mileage under their belts.

Howson, who is the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winner, is looking forward to getting to grips with the sprint format of TCR after recently contesting the first two rounds of the 2019 Super Taikyu Endurance Championship.

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / Super Taikyu Series

“I’m extremely excited to get the TCR Japan season started at Autopolis, a circuit I haven’t driven but always wanted to! Pre-season testing has shown the KCMG Honda Civic Type R has real pace and we expect to be contenders all year,” said Howson.

“It’s a weekend of firsts, as KCMG and I are new to touring car racing, so I’m hoping for a solid start to set us up nicely for a championship challenge.”

Taniguchi contested the World Touring Car Championship on-and-off from 2008 to 2014, with a best result of seventh at the 2011 Race of Japan at Suzuka. He will drive KCMG’s #72 Honda Civic.

“I am very excited to return to touring car racing in my home country. TCR Japan is a great concept and I’m sure it will be very successful,” explained Taniguchi

“KCMG are an experienced outfit and the Honda Civic Type R is a very quick car, so I feel I’m in the right place to compete at a good level this weekend. Thank you to everyone at the team for the opportunity, I’m looking forward to getting out on track.”

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / Super Taikyu Series

TCR Talk will be following Matt Howson with great interest as he competes in one of the newest TCR Series launching this year as well as continuing with his Super Taikyu program for the same team.

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!!!

TCR Talk Explains: The Brits Abroad in 2019!

During the 2019 season, TCR Talk will be reporting on the British drivers running in various international TCR series and giving you updates on how they are performing during the season in a regular event review.

It’s not surprising to see British motor racing drivers plying their trade abroad, choosing to take on a different series in different countries to further their careers and open up the chance to be successful outside of the UK.

Whether this is by choice or due to necessity/funding etc, British drivers who race overseas often come to the fore in international series and set the bar for performance for local drivers to attain or beat.

There are some British drivers who are already well known to the fans and followers of TCR, with the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) season seeing Gordon Shedden and Rob Huff returning for a second year where both men remain at Audi and Volkswagen respectively.

Andy Priaulx. Credit: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Three-time WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx is also competing this year, making a return to touring car action, where he joins the epic lineup at Lynk & Co. You can find all of the reports regarding their activities in WTCR already being covered by Phil at both The Checkered Flag and Downforce Radio.

2019 also sees two British Drivers competing in the second season of the ever popular and exciting TCR Europe Touring Car Series. Three-time TCR Champion Josh Files has switched from Honda to Team Target to driver a Hyundai this season (The same team with whom he won both of his TCR Germany titles).

Josh Files. Credit: WSC Ltd / TCR Europe

Meanwhile, Alex Morgan has stepped up from his TCR Germany and TCR UK adventures last year to make his debut in TCR Europe, staying on board with Wolf-Power Racing where he is driving the new 2019 Renault Megane RS.

You can find all of the reports regarding their activities in TCR Europe already being covered by Phil at both The Checkered Flag and Downforce Radio.

So, with those details now out of the way, we need to tell you about which British drivers are racing in the various TCR Series around the world, who they are racing for and give you a bit of background about them!

Daniel Lloyd: TCR China Touring Car Championship & TCR Europe Touring Car Series

Daniel Lloyd. Credit: MacPro Racing

We start with Daniel Lloyd! Lloyd joined the TCR International Series midway through the 2017 season, replacing the retiring Hugo Valente in the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing team from round five at the Salzburgring in Austria. Lloyd would drive one of the teams SEAT Leon TCR machines.

The Huddersfield driver took podium finish in the first race in Oschersleben where he fought against Gianni Morbidelli for the win, eventually finishing second. In 2018, Lloyd signed a last-minute deal to race for WestCoast Racing in the TCR UK Touring Car Championship, moving across to the Volkswagen Golf GTi.

Despite running with virtually no backers for the first part of the season, Lloyd went on to take the Drivers title at the penultimate round of the year at Donington Park. Overall, he took 7 pole positions, 8 race wins and a further 4 podium finishes from the 14 race season.

Not only has Lloyd been a competitor in various TCR Series, but he has also been selected two years in a row to be a driver in the annual Balance of Performance tests that take place in February and March.

For 2019, the Yorkshire driver has been signed to race for the Dongfeng Honda Racing Team, operated by championship-winning squad MacPro Racing Team in the TCR China Touring Car Championship, driving a Honda Civic Type R TCR. Daniel has already competed in two races for the team in Zhuhai where he won the first race and finished third in the second race.

Adding to his program, Lloyd has also signed with Brutal Fish Racing, to drive a second Honda Civic Type R TCR alongside regular driver Martin Ryba in the remaining rounds of the TCR Europe Touring Car Series. His first appearance in the series will be next weekend at Hockenheim.

Matt Howson: TCR Japan Touring Car Series & Super Taikyu Endurance Series

Matt Howson. Credit: KCMG / TCR Japan

The next driver on our list to follow this year is Matt Howson. Howson has a varied background in Motorsport, starting off with a single seater background that began back in 2001 before making the move to Asia and Japanese F3 in 2007.

2013 saw the Norwich based driver move to Endurance racing with KCMG where he competed in the LMP2 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Howson won the LMP2 class of the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans with with with Richard Bradley and Nicolas Lapierre.

2019 sees Howson re-unite with KCMG where he is taking on a dual programme for the same team that secured the 2018 TCR Europe Teams Championship. Armed with a Honda Civic Type R TCR, Howson has already competed in two rounds of the Super Taikyu Endurance Series.

In the opening round at Suzuka, the team secured a podium finish, however in the next round at Sugo, the British driver suffered misfortune when a puncture took them out of contention for a second podium.

Howson is also making his Sprint Touring car debut for KCMG in the new TCR Japan Touring Car Series, again at the wheel of a Honda Civic for KCMG. Joined in the lineup by former WTCC driver Yukinori Taniguchi. With a 17 car entry confirmed, TCR Japan is already looking like it has a good year ahead of it.

Bradley Burns: ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship

Bradley Burns. Credit: ADAC Motorsport/Gruppe C

Bradley Burns is another driver making his Touring car debut in 2019. The former UK Clio Cup racer has teamed up with Pyro Motorsport to make his debut in the ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship.

Armed with the same Honda Civic Type R TCR that Ollie Taylor drove in the 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship, where he finished as runner up to Daniel Lloyd and competed in two rounds of the 2018 TCR Europe Touring Car Series (where Taylor fought with tintop legend Fabrizio Goivanardi in Italy and beat him for a top ten finish), Burns is already driving a car that has a years worth of competition underneath it.

Pyro Motorsport already has a years experience of the car, having run it in the UK for Taylor as well as looking after Finlay Crocker’s identical machine which also raced in the UK. The team were able to understand the Honda very quickly, having had experience of running in TCR Italy previously.

By choosing to race ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship, Burns has already set himself a tough challenge. Germany was one of the first countries to have a national TCR Series back in 2016 and despite also having the legendary DTM series, TCR Germany has thrived with large grid numbers and excellent competition.

Burns has already competed in the opening rounds of the series at Oschersleben, where he started his season off to a good start by taking a fifth-place finish in the first race, before going one better in race two and taking a fourth-place finish. Burns is back in action this weekend where he will race in rounds three and four of the series at the Most Autodrome in the Czech Republic.

Alex Morgan. Credit: WSC Ltd / TCR Europe

By the way, have you noticed that all of these drivers are racing in Honda’s?

No?

Just me then…

TCR Talk will be following Daniel Lloyd, Matt Howson and Bradley Burns during the 2019 season and reporting back on they go in the various TCR Series they are competing in. We wish all three drivers the very best during their 2019 programmes and look forward to providing the fans with coverage of their activities.

We 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.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!