Anna Inotsume began the TCR Japan’s season with a dominating performance at Suzuka, where she claimed a double victory in the pouring rain at the wheel of her DOME Racing Honda Civic Type R. The lady driver beat twice the BRP-run CUPRA Leon Competición of the reigning champion ‘Hirobon’ and took an early lead in both the Saturday and Sunday series.
Race 1 – Inotsume started from the pole under heavy rain and led from ‘Hirobon’, Masanobu Kato and ‘Mototino’, while Kenji Suzuki made a bad start from P3 and dropped to sixth. During the first lap, ‘Hirobon’ attacked Inotsume and stole the lead from her. However, the reigning champion made a mistake in lap 2, his CUPRA skidding on the wet kerbs, going wide onto the grass, and rejoining third behind Kato’s Audi. Inotsume seized the opportunity to build a six-second gap, while ‘Hirobon’ chased Kato and eventually passed him for P2 in lap 4. ‘Hirobon’ then began to bite into Inotsume’s lead, closing the gap by five tenths per lap. Behind the top three Suzuki recovered after his bad start and passed Junichi Umemoto and ‘Mototino’, moving into P4. In lap 8, Inotsume posted her fastest lap to extend her lead from 4.5 to 6 seconds ahead of ‘Hirobon’; and this is the way the finished, separated by 4.6 seconds, with Kato a distant third.
Race 2 – Rain was even heavier, and at the start ‘Hirobon’ had a slow reaction, while Inotsume sprinted from P2 to take the lead from ‘Mototino’. She built a 4-second gap in the first lap before ‘Hirobon’ passed ‘Mototino’ for second in lap 2. However, her margin vanished as the safety car was deployed in lap 3 to recover Seiji Tamada’s Audi from the gravel. At the restart, ‘Hirobon’ was on the tail of Inotsume’s car, but she managed to create a small gap once again, while Kato went wide onto the grass and dropped from P4 to P6. Up front, Inotsume steadily increased her lead and took he second victory of the weekend, beating ‘Hirobon’ by 4.7 seconds, with ‘Mototino’ completing the podium and Kato climbing back up to fourth.
The championship will resume, on June 9/11, at Okayama.
Suzuka – Race 1
1. Anna Inotsume (DOME Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 11 laps
2. ‘Hirobon’ (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA Leon Competición), 4.653
3. Masanobu Kato (Audi Team Mars, Audi RS 3 LMS), 24.852
Suzuka – Race 2
1. Anna Inotsume (DOME Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 10 laps
2. ‘Hirobon’ (Birth Racing Project, CUPRA Leon Competición), 4.714
3. ‘Mototino’ (55 Moto Racing, Honda Civic Type R Fk7), 31.485
Championship points – Saturday Series
1. A. Inotsume, 30 pts; 2. ‘Hirobon’, 22; 3. M. Kato, 17
Championship points – Sunday Series
1. A. Inotsume, 29 pts; 2. ‘Hirobon’, 23; 3. ‘Mototino’, 18
Picture: TCR Japan