Hiroki Yoshimoto joins Nika Racing for Japan & Macau

Japanese driver Hiroki Yoshimoto has been confirmed as the replacement for Michel Nykjaer at the Swedish Nika Racing team for this weekend’s race at Suzuka, as well as the season finale at Macau in November.

33-year-old Yoshimoto has twice raced in the WTCC before at Suzuka, driving for SUNRED Engineering in 2011 and 2012, and currently leads the Super Taikyu championship, which is supporting the WTCC this weekend.

Nykjaer was stood down from the team yesterday due to a lack of budget. The Danish driver had entered the season without budget for the full season, but the team had been working hard to extend his programme as much as possible considering the strong position they were in, running for much of the year in second in the overall drivers’ standings and quite often leading the Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy.

Yoshimoto will now drive the team’s three-time race winning Chevrolet Cruze 1.6T at Suzuka and Macau, whilst another driver will be announced for the Shanghai race in October, as Yoshimoto has clashing commitments.

”I’m thrilled to have been given this fantastic opportunity by Nika Racing, and to be back in the World Touring Car Championship at Suzuka for the third consecutive year,” said Yoshimoto. “I have been working towards a solution for the final part of the WTCC campaign for quite some time, and I’m excited to be joining a team that has really punched above its weight on so many occasions this year. The Nika Racing story fits in well with the Japanese fascination for underdogs, and I genuinely can’t wait to drive the ultra-successful Chevrolet Cruze in front of my home fans and at Macau later this year.”

Team Principal Nicklas Karlsson added:
“On behalf of everyone at NIKA Racing, I would like to welcome Hiroki to the team for the final part of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship campaign. His versatility and experience of a wide range of cars – in combination with local track knowledge and obvious speed – made him a natural choice for these Asian flyaways, and we are all eager to work with him at Suzuka and Macau.

“We are now in the process of evaluating our options for 2014 – including potential drivers – and our main target over the final three rounds of the season will be to lay the foundations for a successful transition into the future.”