‘Huge honour’ for Ryo Michigami to score first Japanese podium

Ryo Michigami says it is a ‘huge honour’ to take the first-ever podium for a Japanese driver in the World Touring Car Championship, after the Honda racer finished third in the Opening Race in Macau.

Michigami took his best result of the season in race one on the Circuito da Guia when he followed Mehdi Bennani and Tom Coronel for the final podium position.

The 44-year-old had started the race in third and drove a faultless race to become the first driver from Japan to secure a top three result in the WTCC.

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“It’s a huge honour to be on the podium for the first time in the WTCC and to become the first Japanese driver to do this,” said Michigami, who has more than doubled his 2017 points tally as a result. “I have to thank everybody for their support in helping me to get here.

“The race was quite tough because I was trying to see if I could make up some positions, but also aware of who was behind me, and the need to score Manufacturers’ points.”

Michigami was also pleased to be able to help team-mate Norbert Michelisz’s title bid, as he took points away from his main rival, Volvo’s Thed Björk, by finishing ahead of him in the race.

“I’m doubly proud because at the start of the season I wasn’t able to contribute many points for the team,” added Michigami. “But in the Asian races, things have been much better.

“I want to help Honda and Norbi as much as possible in the championship fight.”

Honda’s Large Project Leader for WTCC Development, Ryuichi Furukawa, was delighted for Michigami, whilst also adding that the marque still has lots of work ahead to repair both Michelisz and team-mate Esteban Guerrieri’s cars after they crashed in the race and brought out the red flags.

“I am very happy for Ryo to take the first WTCC podium for a Japanese driver after an impressive performance today,” added Furukawa. “To be able to achieve this with a Honda is very special for us.

“It’s disappointing to see the way the race turned out for Norbi and Esteban because they were driving carefully.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get both cars repaired and ready for the Main Race, but we will try our very best to achieve this.”

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