Hirobon seals TCR Japan Sunday Series title with race 2 victory

Hirobon of Birth Racing Project won the TCR Japan Sunday Series title in style by winning the last race of the season at Suzuka.

The Cupra rider, who already won the Saturday Series crown in the previous round at Motegi, led from start to finish to lead Masanobu Kato to the line just under nine seconds.

Race 1 winner Resshu Shioya finished the season on the podium in the second 20-minute encounter in third.

With the Saturday Series title already secured, Hirobon didn’t have much else to prove in the opening race, but still clinched pole position in the DOME Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR from Anna Inotsume.

Inotsume got a better initial jaunt from second on the grid to move alongside Hirobon in the race to Turn 1, but Hirobo rushed out of the turn to take his Cupra in the lead.

Unfortunately for the Cupra driver, he skipped the start and received a drive-through penalty on the seventh of ten laps, giving Inotsume the lead over Shioya.

Inotsume impressively retained a slim advantage until the last lap, a quick right-hander error from Degner briefly sent the Honda through the gravel trap before getting back on track.

Shioya needed no second chance and took the lead, robbing Inotsume of a first victory in sight of the flag.

Inotsume however hung on for second place, comfortably ahead of Team Mars’ Kato, while 55 Moto Racing Honda’s Mototino and Mineki Okura’s Alfa Romeo were just behind, with Hirobon finishing sixth.

Sunday’s Race 2 started in wet conditions, with Hirobon moving away from pole safely into the first corner, followed by Kato.

The big player in the first lap was Shioya, who passed Inotsume before slipping past Okura as the Alfa struggled for grip at the start of the Esses.

Shioya then perfected a superb move around the exterior of Kato’s Audi to take second place, using the far superior levels of grip at the end of Esses.

By this point, Hirobon had largely checked, building a gigantic 5.3-second lead in the second lap over Kato who managed to get around Shioya’s exterior on braking for the final chicane.

The track had dried up from the start, and Kato started closing the gap on Hirobon, but the latter’s impressive start was too difficult for Kato to make and edged the Cupra by 8.835 seconds at the finish.

Shioya completed the podium, ahead of Inotsume, who passed Masayoshi Oyama for fourth place in the third round of 10. Okura finished fifth ahead of Kenji Suzuki’s Audi, Mototino also overtaking Oyama before the flag.

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