Series organisers of the FIA World Touring Car Championship have officially confirmed that the Twin Ring Motegi road course circuit will play host to this year’s Race of Japan round of the 2015 season in September.
The 4.8-kilometre circuit located north of Tokyo was built in 1997 by Honda and has played host to rounds of the MotoGP and IndyCar Series championships. The venue is unique in having a separate road course and an oval circuit which can be used simultaneously.
Motegi will be the third different Japanese venue to host a WTCC round, with TI Aida and Suzuka (in ‘East’ and full ‘Grand Prix’ configurations) both having had turns over the last ten years.
“We genuinely think WTCC has found its home in Japan at Motegi. MotoGP tracks usually deliver high-quality touring car races and we are certain that the Motegi layout will offer close racing and significant overtaking opportunities,” WTCC General Manager François Ribeiro said.
“The WTCC was a success at Suzuka with attendances increasing each year. Given that popularity and the degree of expertise of Japanese motorsport fans, switching venues was a decision we took very carefully in conjunction with our partner Mobilityland. Mid-September should hopefully offer the most favourable weather conditions in terms of the local climate and we’ll be working very hard with all our Japanese WTCC stakeholders to promote the WTCC in the Tokyo area to ensure a good crowd.”
While Ribeiro is outwardly trumpeting the move to Motegi, the circuit has its detractors. Its combined circuit set-up necessitated a number of design compromises, one of which was the poor placement of spectator grandstands for the road course. Sections of the oval circuit are known to block the best vantage points to view the road course, including its best passing spots.
Another major concern will be circuit access, with the remote venue – located 145km north of Tokyo – having just two public access points via a two-lane road. The area is not well serviced by public transport and a planned superhighway into the area has not been completed either.
2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship Calendar:
|08 March||Race of Argentina||Termas de Rio Hondo, Rio Hondo|
|19 April||Race of Morocco||Circuit Moulay El Hassan, Marrakech|
|03 May||Race of Hungary||Hungaroring, Budapest|
|16 May||Race of Germany||Nürburgring Nordschleife, Nürburg|
|07 June||Race of Russia||Moscow Raceway, Moscow|
|21 June||Race of Slovakia||Slovakia Ring, Orechová Potôň|
|28 June||Race of France||Paul Ricard, Marseilles|
|12 July||Race of Portugal||Vila Real street circuit|
|13 September||Race of Japan||Twin Ring Motegi road course, Motegi|
|27 September||Race of China||Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai|
|01 November||Race of Thailand||Buriram International Circuit|
|22 November||Race of Qatar||Losail International Circuit, Lusail|
Image via XPB Images