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: Lloyd rounds off TCR China campaign in style

During 2019, TCR Talk will be following the progress of the various British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad. We continue this series with 2018 TCR UK Champion Daniel Lloyd, who is competing in the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship for Dongfeng Honda Racing Team…

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of Daniel’s performance at Zhouzhou International Circuit in China, location for the Finale of the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship, where race one took place on Saturday and race two took place on Sunday…

Race One at Zhouzhou…

Credit: TCR China

Luca Engstler carried on his top form from Ningbo as he won the first race of the series’ finale at Zhouzhou International Circuit. After he dominated the previous event with pole position and two race victories, the young German was again the fastest in Qualifying and converted the pole position into his third consecutive win.

Daniel Lloyd was classified second and cut six points off Huang Chu Han’s leading margin in the standings. However, Huang – who finished fifth in the first race – still had an advantage of fourteen points with twenty on offer in the last race of the year.

On a damp track, Engstler took the lead from the start ahead of the MacPro trio of Martin Xie, Lloyd, André Couto, Zhang Zhen Dong’s MG and Huang. Lloyd overtook Xie on lap 3 and tried to close the gap to Engstler, but the Hyundai driver managed to keep his advantage stable around three seconds.

In lap 5, Couto passed Xie for P3 and Huang overtook Zheng for P5. For a few laps the MG driver kept on chasing Huang’s Audi, but in the second part of the race, his pace faded and eventually, he pitted on the penultimate lap. Engstler won from Lloyd, Couto, Xie, Huang and Kenneth Look.

Race Two at Zhouzhou

Credit: TCR China

Daniel Lloyd won a very wet second race in TCR China’s finale at Zhouzhou International Circuit.

However, this was not enough for the young Englishman to clinch the title, because his rival Huang Chu Han recovered after a spin to finish the race in sixth position and so retained a four-point lead in the final standings.

At the start, André Couto took the lead from Lloyd and Martin Xie, but after a few turns, he spun and dropped to fourth behind Engstler. During the first lap, Couto tried to regain third position but t-boned Engstler’s car that spun and rejoined in fifth position, while Couto’s remained stranded in the middle of the track and the safety car was deployed.

When racing resumed, Lloyd increased his lead, while Xie defended the second place from Huang, Look and Engstler. In lap 8, Engstler overtook Look for P4, while Huang spun, dropping from third to eighth.

After a brief fight, Engstler passed Xie to move into P2 and then tried to close the gap to Lloyd, but the latter had already built a huge margin, while Xie and Look continued cruising in third and fourth positions.

During the final laps, Huang was able to pass both Alex Liu and James Wong to finish sixth behind the MG of Zhang Zhen Dong, and so he secured the TCR China title.

Lloyd reflects on Zhouzhou & his TCR China season

Credit: TCR China

With the Zhouzhou International Circuit the location for the finale of the TCR China season, Lloyd did everything in his power to take the fight to title rival and eventual champion Huang Chu Han.

It can be argued that Lloyd has been the dominant force in the series this year, however, retirements and disqualifications put paid to his hopes of a second TCR title. Despite this, Lloyd reflected back on his season in TCR China, where he put on some very strong performances.

“It was a really good weekend to end the season on. We knew coming into the weekend that the championship was just that bit out of reach, but we gave it our all, and we came so very close, explained Lloyd.

“It was a real shame to miss out on the title. Unfortunately, with only 10 rounds in the series, the two non-finishes we picked up earlier in the season killed our chances. Without those two incidents, we would have won the championship by a country mile. It’s frustrating as there was nothing I could have done differently to change them, but that’s motorsport.”

Lloyd added further to his thoughts regarding the weekend and his season in TCR China.

“The car was strong all weekend, as it has been all season. The JAS Motorsport guys have given us the tools to do a great job this season, and it’s been a brilliant experience racing with the Dongfeng Honda crew.”

“They are a great bunch and have worked really hard all year. I’m delighted to have been able to help them claim the Manufacturers title. They really deserve all of the glory. It’s been a strong end to a great season for me. I’m excited to see what 2020 brings.”

Credit: TCR China

TCR Talk sends its thanks to Daniel Lloyd for being able to report on his season in the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship 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!!!