Shinya Michimi put in a stellar performance all weekend long at the 4.8 Km, 14-corner Road Course at Twin Ring Motegi to earn his first Pole and first Podium with a 2nd place finish, as well as earning valuable points which catapulted him into 4th place overall in the FCJ Championship standings. After a solid 2 days of practice sessions in which Shinya found himself in the top 3 for almost all of the sessions and at the top of the leader board in the Qualifying simulation run, Shinya knew he had a really good chance of attaining some all important points this week at Motegi, and potentially his first podium. In the first session of qualifying, the temperatures were the lowest they had been all week, and Shinya struggled to get heat into the front tires. He was only able to achieve a 5th place qualifying position for the start of Round 3 of the Formula Challenge Japan series. A simple front tire pressure adjustment was made before the start of Qualifying Session 2 that would hopefully be the fix to Shinya’s grip struggles in Session 1. It turned out to be a good decision, as the number 9 was sitting on the top of the timesheets at the end of Qualifying Session 2 with a blistering 1:53.476 lap time that was 0.260 faster than the 2nd fastest driver; giving Shinya his maiden Pole and the 1st place starting position on the grid for Round 4.
Round 3 would turn out to be a wet race as rain began to fall one hour prior to the start and rain tires were fitted to the cars for the first time of the weekend. After a good launch from 5th on the grid and a good first few laps, Shinya made two moves to fight his way into 3rd position. Midway through the race however, an uncharacteristic mistake allowed the driver in 4th to go by, resulting in Shinya losing one of those positions. Shinya was able to chase down the driver in 3rd, but unfortunately ran out of time and was unable to regain 3rd position. Shinya would have to settle for a 4th place finish in Round 3, not exactly where he wanted to end up, but still a solid finish gaining valuable points for the championship.
Round 4 Sunday morning, Shinya was really looking forward to starting the race from the first place grid slot as a result of earning Pole in Qualifying Session 2. But with portions of the track being dry and parts of the track still very damp, conditions were going to be difficult on the dry tires chosen by the series officials for the race. Shinya decided to gamble with lower tire pressures than other drivers, to hopefully have an advantage for the latter part of the 18 lap race, when the track would most likely be completely dry. Despite getting a good launch, the driver starting in 3rd position was able to make use of his high tire pressures to get good traction around the outside of turn 1 to overtake Shinya. It took skillful defensive driving just to hold off the other cars from overtaking as Shinya struggled with grip for around 6 laps before his tires started to gain heat, but Shinya managed to successfully hold onto 2nd place. With the tires finally up to heat, Shinya was able to put distance between him and the other drivers and set his sights on the leader. But unfortunately, the leader had built up quite a gap. Shinya managed to close the gap some by the end of the race, but the leader on higher tire pressures had not dropped off as much as Shinya had anticipated, and Shinya ran out of time. The gamble on tire pressure unfortunately did not work out this time, but Shinya was still elated to have gotten a solid 2nd place finish for his first podium in the Formula Challenge Japan series.
It was a solid weekend of earning points and firsts for Shinya at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. After this weekend, Shinya has now moved all the way up from 10th to 4th in the points Championship after 4 Rounds. With 13 points and only 7 points behind the joint leaders, Shinya is really looking forward to heading back to Fuji Speedway for Rounds 5 & 6 to try to pick up more points, and hopefully a win, to help in the quest for the 2013 FCJ Championship. Shinya would like to thank Toyota, FTRS, TRD, Plan Z, Ramblas, Gold Wolf Racing, BevelGear, and GO Designs for their support this weekend, and Gold Wolf Racing and AS-ART for the spectacular new color scheme on the car.