Japanese racers Ritomo Miyata and Ryuichiro Tomita will compete in next month’s FIA World Touring Car Cup races in Japan as wildcard entries, racing Audi RS3 LMS cars under the Audi Team Hitotsuyama banner.
The team are currently competing in the TCR Japan series with drivers Takuro Shinohara and Hideki Nakahara, although neither Myiata or Tomita are racing in TCR Japan at present.
Hitotsuyama Racing is celebrating its 30th season of racing in 2019, and it has previously competed in touring car racing when it ran BMW cars in the Japanese Touring Car Championship in the 1990s.
Miyata, 20, began his career racing in single-seaters, including FIA Formula 4 and Formula 3 before moving on to Super GT last year.
Tomita, 30, has made a name competing in GT racing, including racing the team’s Audi R8 LMS in the GT300 class of Super GT and in the Suzuka 10 Hours since 2018.
Hitotsuyama Racing first switched to being an Audi customer team in 2011 and secured the Super Taikyu title in its first year with the Audi R8 LMS in 2011.
“I have had the chance to test the Audi RS 3 LMS at Fuji with Audi Team Hitotsuyama,” said Miyata, who is currently second in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship. “I had never driven a front-wheel drive car before.
“I have spent my career in karting, single-seaters and Super GT, but I really have to say that I liked the TCR category instantly because the Audi is a car that is easy and fun to drive.
“Obviously, the WTCR 2019 super grid boasts plenty of champions including multiple world champions, and I have a lot of respect for them.
“But as a race driver, you’ve got one target only whenever you race: being in front, claiming the pole position and winning. I want to do my best, and I know it won’t be easy at all against so many high-level drivers.”
Tomita has already sought advice from WTCR front-runner Frédéric Vervisch about making his début on the Suzuka East course next month.
“He gave me some advice on WTCR, both in terms of the car and how the sessions during a tight weekend schedule are used to maximum effect,” said Tomita. “I have had the chance to test the Audi RS 3 LMS from Audi Team Hitotsuyama at Fuji recently.
“Last year, I raced the car at Motegi, and I really like it, and I’ve clinched a third place in an endurance race recently.
“When compared to another front-wheel-drive car that I’ve raced earlier in my career in a smaller class, a TCR car is much more powerful and fun. But I know how strong the opposition is with so many champions and world champions.
“Still, I have set myself a target: it would be great to be among the top 10. I have raced already very often at Suzuka and even clinched a win here in the GT300 class of Super GT in 2015.”
WTCR to take on Suzuka East Course
Eurosport Events, the promoter of WTCR, has also revealed that the series will race on the shorter, 2.243 km Suuzka East course when the series visits the country next month.
The last time the short course was used in FIA World Touring Cars was between 2011 and 2013, before the full Grand Prix circuit was used in 2014 and again in 2018 for WTCR’s first visit.
The reason for the switch has been put down to the fact that the full course is lined with urethane safety barriers, which are mandatory for motorcycle events.
These barriers would not conform to the FIA circuit racing requirements, and there is insufficient time to remove them before WTCR’s visit and then to reinstatement them following the race weekend before other circuit requirements take hold.
“In order to hold the WTCR and Super Formula on the same weekend and calling them the 4 & 4 Races, three parties – the FIA, Eurosport Events and Suzuka Circuit – have been discussing since last year the best racing format for that event,” explained Kaoru Tanaka, the President of Mobilityland Corporation.
“We are deeply grateful to the FIA for approving the new venue. We will remove urethane barriers in order to conform with the FIA safety standard, but at the same time we will be able to make sure to increase to a more entertaining race. That is the reason to reach the agreement.
“The WTCR is an exciting racing event with especially heated races. At the East Course spectators can watch the cars jostle with each other through various corners and enjoy the uniquely stadium-style atmosphere. We know it will be an exciting weekend for motorsport fans.”