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 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 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!!!