November 4, 2023

Takahata to defend World title from P3 in Japan

Mugen Seiki’s Shoki Takahata is to defend the 1:8 Onroad World Championship title he won in California four years ago from P3 on the grid in Japan after a near perfect Semi Final performance.  Starting the second of the half hour encounters from P2 on the grid, the Japanese driver would win from the Capricorn pairing of pole sitter Toni Gruber and Dominic Greiner, the later having to start from the back of the grid after calling time in the warm-up to change engine.  In the first of the Semi Finals, Jesse Davis executed a text book race to repeat his 2019 performance when he booked himself into his first World Championship final.  Behind the Australian, Infinity team-mate Naoto Matsukura secured his place in the 1-hour final ahead of a delighted Francesco Tironi, the Italian having bumped up from the quarter finals.  As the drivers with the fastest two race times outside of the Top 3 Semi Final finishers, 2013 World Champion Tadahiko Sahashi and 1:8 Onroad World Championship debutant Kouki Kato complete the 10 car line up that will compete for the 23rd IFMAR World Title here at Infinity International RC Speedway.

Reacting to the performance that allowed him to the join Top Qualifier Simon Kurzbuch and Super Pole winner Dario Balestri at the front of the grid, Takahata was pleased with his race saying his car & engine were both good.  With an impressive tyre stop that was almost a second better than that of Gruber, he said while the pace was very fast the race went pretty much as planned.  With drivers changing all four tyres after 15-minutes in the Semi, Takahata described tyre wear as ‘high’ and he expects to change them at least twice in the final.

Commenting on his race, Gruber said, ‘in the end we made it and that was the goal’.  Elaborating on his race he added, ‘It was good Dominic called time so we had time to make some changes to the car set-up.  It was better to drive but still not the feeling I had the other days.  It’s a 1-hour final and anything can happen but we need to think about the set-up and see what we can adjust’.  Set to line-up fourth on the grid, he concluded, ‘I am happy to make the final but right now it will be a difficult race if we don’t find a better set-up’.

Clearly a mentally draining 30-minutes having started from the back of the grid, 2017 1:10 World Champion Greiner said he called time in the warm-up as he broke his engine.  Calmly changing engine in pit lane under the watchful eyes of all his rivals and their mechanics, something he clearly practiced, an early flip in the race added to the intensity of the challenge ahead for the German.  With Thilo Diekmann and Alex Thurston crewing him, the pressure in pit lane was also palpable with Capricorn boss Patrizio Rossi looking on.  Greiner explained, ‘I flipped one time at the beginning so I tried to stay calm but overtaking here is not so easy’. On his car he added, ‘we moved the wing position and adjusted the set-up before the start because the car was loose but it made the car too easy to drive so we will good back to before for the final’.

‘Perfect’ was how Davis summed up his Semi win.  Finishing 7th on his Worlds final debut last time out, he continued, ‘I had it on cruise mode and then just tried to control it at the front’.  With very well executed pitstops from his crew, he said, ‘they did a good job and I hope they can keep it up for the final’.  On tyre wear, he said, ‘there is a lot, at 15-minutes it was hard to drive but in the Main I should be able to stretch it to 20-minutes.’

‘I’m so happy to go to the final’, was Matsukura’s reaction after his race, the Japanese driver having failed to finish any of the 6 rounds of qualifying as he ran out of fuel.  The 1:12, 1:10 Electric and 1:10 Nitro Touring Car World Champion added, ‘I made a mistake in pitlane on my first stop but after that it was a pretty good race.  My engine was a little off so we will change for a new one for the final’.  Asked about tyre wear he said, ‘for me it was OK.  I think 20-minutes is possible’.

A hugely popular result for Tironi, the Italian said, ‘I am super happy honestly’.  He continued, ‘It was really close and I felt a lot of nerves but it all worked out well and we can make the final’.  The Infinity driver said he was able to refuel on 4-minutes and he believes this might give him an advantage over his rival so he is feeling positive about the final.

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