Photo: TCR Japan

Takuro Shinohara again the one to beat in Fuji Saturday Series race

Takuro Shinohara produced yet another dominant performance to take victory in final TCR Japan Saturday Series race of the 2020 season at Fuji.

The Audi Team Hitotsuyama driver came home nearly ten seconds clear of the Birth Racing Project BRP Cupra of Hirobon, while Resshu Shioya completed the podium following a late pass of Takeshi Matsumoto’s Volkswagen Golf.

With rain beginning to fall on the first of two formation laps, Stile Corse’s Mineki Okura spun his Alfa Romeo at the final corner, forcing him to start the race from the back of the grid, having qualified third.

Shinohara, who picked up the Saturday Series title last time out at Suzuka, again took pole position and led away off the line comfortably at the start of the race. Fellow front-row starter Hirobon had to fend off the attentions of Matsumoto’s Volkswagen Goolf into the first corner for second.

Such was Shinohara’s getaway off the line that the Audi driver had already built nearly three seconds of lead by the end of the opening lap as Hirobon came under increasing pressure from Matsumoto behind.

Despite piling on the pressure on Hirobon in front in the early stages, defending Sunday Series champion Matsumoto started to fall back into the clutches of Shioya’s Team G/MO Honda Civic Type-R TCR for fourth approaching half-distance.

Further back, Mototino and Kenjiro Suzuki were embroiled in a lively squabble for seventh place. Mototino dived down the inside of Suzuki’s Audi under braking for the first corner, with the pair running side-by-side into the second turn. Mototino took the place but Suzuki soon reclaimed the position at the end of the lap.

In the battle for third, Matsumoto went wide exiting turn one inside the closing minute which allowed Shioya to pull alongside the VW approaching the second corner. Shioya ran off the road as he attempted to go around the outside of Matsumoto and eventually claimed the place on exit.

Matsumoto tried to fight back on the final lap, but instead found himself under pressure from a recovering Okura in the Alfa Romeo.

Also in the mix was Rio Shimono, who had endured something of a quiet race in the Drago Corse Honda.

Shinohara however came home as a comfortable winner from Hirobon by 8.835 seconds while Shioya finished third.

Matsumoto held on for third ahead of Okura and Shimono with Suzuki securing seventh at the finish.

Mototino was eight ahead of Jun Makino, while Junichi Umemoto was a non-starter in his J’s Racing Alfa Romeo.

The final Sunday Series race of the year is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 01:55 CET, with Shinohara holding a slender one-point advantage over Matsumoto in the standings.