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April 9, 2012

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NDDP's Takaboshi takes 4th in season-opener
- Formula Challenge Japan Opening Round Race Report -

April 7, 8 Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka prefecture)
The opening round of Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) saw NDDP (Nissan Driver Development Program) driver Mitsunori Takaboshi in the #12 machine take 4th place in the first race.

#12 Mitsunori Takaboshi

#12 Mitsunori Takaboshi

#13 Kiyoto Fujinami

#13 Kiyoto Fujinami

There are two NDDP drivers participating in this season's FCJ, Takaboshi and in the #13 car, Kiyoto Fujinami. Fujinami, a rookie who is taking on the challenge of formula car racing for the first time this season, stated that his goal was to "get accustomed to my machine as fast as possible and score a win in the second half of the season."

The first race started at 2:50pm on the 7th (Saturday). Takaboshi, who started fourth, was unable to pick up the pace – but managed to hold off his pursuers who repeatedly threatened to overtake, and crossed the finish line in fourth place, earning series' points from the opening event. Fujinami, who started twelfth, avoided getting caught in the scramble at the start and made it through the first corner smoothly. He was closing the gap with the machine ahead at the final corner of the seventh lap, before pulling ahead on the next lap. He finished ninth.

The second race started at 9:45am on the 8th (Sunday). Takaboshi started fifth, passing one car on the opening lap, and another at the first corner of lap 7, rising to third place. His first shot at the podium this season was right before his eyes, but tyre wear in the second half of the race made it difficult for him to increase his pace, while the fourth-placed machine was drawing up behind him. He managed to hold onto his position by weaving, but they ran side-by-side at the Dunlop corner on lap 18, and, despite his best efforts to stay parallel until coming out of the next corner, made contact. This caused a burst tyre, and he was forced to bring his machine to a halt at the side of the track. He ended up withdrawing, but it was a spirited and hard-fought race. Fujinami, who started eleventh, fell into last place due to his engine stalling, but clawed his way back into the race and finished tenth.

Mitsunori Takaboshi (1st race: 4th place; 2nd race: Retired)
"I ended up battling the same driver in both the first and second races. [In the second race], I went on the attack at the start, made it up to 3rd place, and ended up in the same situation as I had been in yesterday with the fourth-placed driver coming up behind me. I was thinking, 'I'll be able to hold 3rd place like this,' but the other driver kept improving his pace little by little. I wasn't able to hold him off, and we ended up colliding. The next race is at a track with different features, but I want to think seriously about why I couldn't improve my pace today, and fight further ahead."

Formula Challenge Japan Round 1
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 4 FTRS Clarion FCJ Ryo Hirakawa 25'39.733
2 10 HFDP/SRS-F/ARTA Nobuharu Matsushita 4.154
3 8 HFDP/SRS-F/ARTA Shota Kiyohara 5.436
4 12 NDDP DAISHIN FCJ Mitsunori Takaboshi 5.916
9 13 NDDP FCJ
Kiyoto Fujinami 21.999
Formula Challenge Japan Round 2
Pos No Machine Driver Time / Behind
1 4 FTRS Clarion FCJ Ryo Hirakawa 35'46.743
2 10 HFDP/SRS-F/ARTA Nobuharu Matsushita 8.025
3 8 HFDP/SRS-F/ARTA Shota Kiyohara 17.101
10 13 NDDP FCJ Kiyoto Fujinami 38.341
- 12 NDDP DAISHIN FCJ Mitsunori Takaboshi -3Laps

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