He is the protege of Masami Hirosaka, he is back to back Japanese Champion and is rated very highly by the likes of Atsushi Hara, 15-year-old Yokomo hot property Naoto Matsukura is the Top Qualifier for the 2008 IFMAR 1:12 World Championship here in Bangkok, Thailand. Driving an Associated RC125R, Matsukura won the final qualifier to secure himself a place in the history books as he becomes the youngest ever World Championship Top Qualifier. Winning four of the six qualifiers the only one to come close to challenging to emerging world star was his Finnish 1:12 scale team-mate Juho Levanen who TQ’d Heat 3 & 4 giving the US manufacturer total domination here at Radio Control Speedway.
While Associated rule the front row of the grid, four other manufacturers will join them in the final but going on current form they are going to be battling for the final podium placing unless the two certain drivers trip one another up. Heading that fight is Hupo Honigl with his CRC chassis who will line up third on the grid ahead of European 1:12 Champion Marc Rheinard. Hot Bodies have four cars in the final with Rheinard joined by Hideo Kitazawa (5th), Daisuke Yoshioka (9th) and Andy Moore (10th). A big blow for Hot Bodies is pre event favourite Atsushi Hara’s failure to make the A Final. The 1:8 Off Road World Champion & former Touring Car World Champion will line up in the No.1 spot for the B Final where he his joined on the front row by Touring Car Pre-Worlds winner Viktor Wilck.
Also in the A Final for CRC is Dutch ace Jilles Groskamp who starts 6th with his Speed Passion powered example. Row four is made up of Simo Ahoneimi who carries the mammoth task of trying to retain the World title for Team Corally while Teemu Leino carries the hopes of Xray who must already be very pleased at having made the A Main on their 1:12 debut.
So three 8 minute final legs seperate us from finding out who will become the 14th holder of the 1:12 World Champion title. Are we about to see history in the making? Time will tell.
Top 10 qualifiers
1. Naoto Matsukura – JPN [Asso] – 465pts
2. Juho Levanen – FIN [Asso] – 463pts
3. Hupo Honigl – A [CRC] – 454pts
4. Marc Rheinard – DE [HB] – 453pts
5. Hideo Kitizawa – JPN [HB] – 453pts
6. Jilles Groskamp – NL [CRC] – 451pts
7. Simo Ahoniemi – FIN [Corally]- 447pts
8. Teemu Leino – FIN [Xray] – 445pts
9. Daisuke Yoshioka – JPN [HB] – 445pts
10. Andy Moore – UK [HB] – 444pts