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Honda to increase to four works’ Civics in Japan

Honda will increase its entry in the World Touring Car Championship to four cars for the Race of Japan in September, giving Japanese racer Ryo Michigami his début in the championship.

Michigami will join regular works’ Honda drivers Rob Huff, Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro at the wheel of one of the marque’s Civic TC1 cars, making him the first Japanese driver to sample the newer-generation TC1 machinery.

The 43-year-old has a long history of racing for Honda which dates back to 1998. Over the course of his racing career he has taken 11 wins, 58 podiums and 11 pole positions in championships ranging from the Japanese Touring Car Championship to Super GT and Super Formula.

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Michigami recently tested one of the JAS Motorsport cars at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, ahead of his appearance at the Twin Ring Motegi.

“I had a chance to test the Civic WTCC at Barcelona last week and was hoping for an opportunity to race it, so I’m very excited that I’ll be able to do this so soon,” said Michigami. “I was involved in the development of the Civic Type R, which was released last year, and had been watching the Civic WTCC closely as well.

“I will be racing with my heart and soul at Motegi and putting all my experience to best use. Honda and JAS Motorsport have given me a wonderful opportunity; the car felt consistently fast in Spain and I’ll definitely be well-prepared for the races in Japan.”

François Ribeiro, Head of WTCC promoter Eurosport Events, praised Honda for continuing their commitment to the WTCC with the addition of a fourth car for a local racer.

“After giving independent champion Norbert Michelisz his dream factory drive in the WTCC, Honda is now handing a local hero in Ryo Michigami the chance to make his World Touring Car Championship debut,” said Ribeiro. “It not only underlines Honda’s commitment to the WTCC but will also generate even more interest in the event among Japanese fans.”

“Ryo has developed a strong reputation from his exploits racing in Japan and is an important part of the Honda Racing family, so it’s a real honour to welcome him to the WTCC at his and Honda’s home event.”

It is the second time that Honda has expanded its entry for its home round of the WTCC, with the manufacturer having expanded from two to three cars in 2013 to give local driver Takuya Izawa an entry at Suzuka.

Honda’s Large Project Leader for WTCC Development, Daisuke Horiuchi, admits he is looking forward to the addition of a Japanese racer for the event in early September.

“I’m excited to have a Japanese driver competing for us at our home race,” said Horiuchi. “Ryo has been racing with Honda for a long time, so he immediately grasped the characteristics of the Civic WTCC at Barcelona.

“There isn’t much time between now and Motegi, but we’ll be working our hardest with JAS to provide the support he needs. We’re looking forward to Ryo racing fast in front of the Japanese fans.”

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