July 24, 2012

Matsukura takes 3rd consecutive World title

Team Yokomo’s Naoto Matsukura has joined a very elite group of drivers after the 18-year-old secured his third consecutive 1:12 World Championship title in the Netherlands ahead of CRC’s Andy Moore, the result going to a tie break that was decided by Matsukura’s faster Leg 1 winning race time.  Winning the third & final A-Main ahead of the defending champion, Ronald Volker completed the podium at the 16th running of the IFMAR event.

Delighted to retain the title he first won at just 15-years of age in 2008 in Thailand, Matsukura said he felt ‘maximum pressure’ going in to the deciding 8-minute encounter after the Japanese ace had a troubled Leg 2 the result of which meant both Moore and Marc Rheinard had a chance at denying him the title. Leading most of the opening lap he said his nerves got the better of him causing him to make a mistake just coming up to the loop for the first time which handed Volker the lead and also allowed both Moore and Rheinard ahead of him. Recovering to re-pass Moore, with a forceful move that spun the former European Champion out, and then 2-minutes in Rheinard to move back up to second, he said he knew the position would be enough for the title and so revert to driving safe.  Joining legends of the sport Masami Hirosaka and Lamberto Collari as the only drivers to claim three consecutive World titles, Matsukura said he now wants to go for win number four.

Saying he came into these championship with no real expectations, the Touring Car World Championships which starts tomorrow his main focus, Moore said he was a little disappointed with second after having come so close to taking the win.  Having momentarily got ahead of Matsukura following his early mistake, the 2006 Touring Car World Champion felt he was hard done by when the Yokomo driver turned him around at the very next corner, an incident he expected the race referee would hand down a stop & Go penalty for but nothing was called.  Setting the track lap record in the final race, with a 12.060, Moore was pleased to claim a podium for CRC having only signed a late deal with the US manufacturer to contest the Worlds.  CRC were the best represented car in the final with their four drivers making the grid.

Winning the third Main, with the only 39 lap run of the finals, to secure the final step on the podium Volker said his speed just came too late. Mixed feeling about the result he said at least he ended the event with a win and the fastest time and this is a positive for the rest of the week when he contests the Touring Car World Championship up the road in Heemstede at the outdoor MACH track.  Not a regular 1:12 racer, the Euro Touring Series Champion said he needed to give a special thank you to Associated’s Sean Cochran for his support over the three days as together with his regular Yokomo mechanic Umino Yukijiro and LRP’s Reto Konig they did all the work on his car which he said in the final race was so easy to drive.

Having made the podium on his last 1:12 outing, the 2010 World Championships, Rheinard said a clash with the barriers ended his chances of a win or holding second in A3 which would have helped his CRC team-mate to lift the title.  With his prototype CRC tweaked following the mistake he struggled with the car and was not quick enough to feature in the race eventually finishing fifth behind team-mates Elliot Harper and Simo Ahoniemi.

So with Matsukura pulling off a successful title defense, the attention now turns to Touring Cars with Marc Rheinard looking also to join the special group of three in a row World Champions.  Action for the 1:10 cars gets underway tomorrow evening with two rounds of free practice.  Our coverage, which is supported by LRP, Speed Passion and JG Racing, will continue then.

Final Overall Result
1. Naoto Matsukura (JP) – Yokomo – 19 pts
2. Andy Moore (GB) – CRC – 19
3. Ronald Völker (DE) – Associated – 17
4. Marc Rheinard (DE) – CRC – 15
5. Rick Hohwart (US) – Associated – 13
6. Simo Ahoniemi (FI) – CRC – 13
7. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – Xray – 11
8. Jilles Groskamp (NL) – Onpoint – 11
9. Elliot Harper (GB) – CRC – 10
10.Hideo Kitazawa (JP) – Corally – 6

A-Main Leg 3 Result
1. Ronald Völker (DE) – Associated – 39/8:10.810
2. Naoto Matsukura (JP) – Yokomo – 38/8:01.430
3. Elliot Harper (GB) – CRC – 38/8:02.404
4. Simo Ahoniemi (FI) – CRC – 38/8:02.594
5. Marc Rheinard (DE) – CRC – 38/8:04.058
6. Rick Hohwart (US) – Associated – 38/8:08.204
7. Andy Moore (GB) – CRC – 38/8:11.478
8. Alexander Hagberg (SE) – Xray – 38/8:13.056
9. Hideo Kitazawa (JP) – Corally – 37/8:03.104
10.Jilles Groskamp (NL) – Onpoint – 26/5:40.390

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