Local racers Ritomo Miyata and Ryuichiro Tomita have secured wildcard entries for the FIA World Touring Car Cup’s Race of Japan round at Suzuka.
Miyata (20) and Tomita (30) will each drive an Audi RS3 LMS entered by Audi Team Hitotsuyama and are expected to attract a sizable crowd with the WTCR sharing double billing with the final round of the Super Formula Championship.
Miyata (pictured top), who began his career in FIA Formula 4, has been racing in Formula 3 and Super GT since last year, while Tomita has competed in Hitotsuyama’s Audi R8 LMS in the GT300 class of Super GT and in the Suzuka 10 Hours since 2018.
Hitotsuyama Racing, which is celebrating its 30th season in 2019, has relied on Audi power since 2011 when it won the Super Taikyu title using an Audi R8 LMS. For 2019, it is embarking on a Japanese Super GT programme with an Audi R8 LMS, while returning to its touring car roots via a TCR Japan programme using an Audi RS 3 LMS.
Born in Kanagawa, Miyata is currently second overall in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship ahead of its season-ending round at Okayama on September 28-29. It will be his first competitive outing in a front-wheel-drive touring car.
“I have had the chance to test the Audi RS 3 LMS at Fuji with Audi Team Hitotsuyama. I had never driven a front-wheel drive car before,” he explained. “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.”
Born in Tokyo, the more experienced Tomita (pictured right) is targeting a top-ten finish, having previously raced the TCR-spec RS3 LMS.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
As wildcards, neither driver will be eligible for championship points and will carry an additional 20 kilograms of ballast per the series’ technical regulations.
The FIA WTCR Race of Japan takes place at Suzuka’s East Course on October 25-27.
Images via Audi Club North America and Formula Scout