Japan dominates racing – Honda in F1, WTCR; Toyota in WRC, Nascar; Mazda in IMSA, Yamaha in MotoGP – paultan.org

Another weekend, another dominant performance by Japanese companies in motorsport. Following its trophy haul from last week, Honda put on another strong showing on Sunday, while its other compatriots also won big on both two and four wheels.

The big news was, of course, in Formula 1, where Max Verstappen took his second straight victory in the Styrian Grand Prix. The Dutch racer crushed his opposition yesterday, cruising home with a gap of 35.743 seconds over title rival Lewis Hamilton to extend Red Bull Racing’s win streak to four.

Starting from pole at the Red Bull Ring, Verstappen got off the line cleanly and kept Hamilton at bay; his pace advantage then enabled him to build a lead over the Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver that would never be challenged. Behind them, teammate Sergio Perez started fourth and ran as high as third, but a costly pit stop error meant that he lost a place to the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

A late charge after a second pit stop proved fruitless as Bottas held off the Mexican by just half a second. Still, first and fourth was enough for the Honda-powered Red Bull to extend its lead in the constructor’s championship to 40 points over Mercedes (252 points versus 212).

Meanwhile, Verstappen’s lead over Hamilton in the driver’s standings has now grown to 18 points (156 points versus 138), with the Briton claiming an extra point for fastest lap. As for the other Honda-engined team, Scuderia AlphaTauri, Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda finished tenth to take home the final point, while his teammate Pierre Gasly retired early on after a collision with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Over in the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), Attila Tassi took the chequered flag in his Honda Civic Type R TCR in Race Two in Portugal. The All-Inkl.de Münnich Motorsport driver made an excellent start from fourth, climbing up to second immediately before passing teammate Tiago Monteiro in the closing stages, the latter pitting to fasten a loose bonnet and eventually finishing 18th.

In the sister All-Inkl.com team, Esteban Guerrieri started from pole but made a slow getaway, falling down to 16th by the time the safety car was deployed on lap one. The Argentinian rose up the order to finish eighth, while teammate Nestor Girolami came home 13th after starting last due to collision repairs after Race One.

Tassi’s win follows a seventh-place finish in the opening race, meaning he is now second in the driver’s championship behind Jean-Karl Vernay. Montiero’s fourth place and Guerrieri’s fifth in Race One put them joint fifth in the standings, while All-Inkl.de Münnich Motorsport sits at the top of the teams’ standings with a lead of just three points ahead of the Lynk & Co team of Cyan Racing.

Toyota was also victorious in the World Rally Championship (WRC) thanks to seven-time world champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in the Yaris WRC. The duo won the returning Safari Rally in Kenya having dropped to seventh – more than two minutes adrift – due to a suspension issue on the first day.

Attrition was the main focus of the gruelling event, with day one also seeing Ogier’s teammates Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä retiring and Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak developing a puncture. Despite his setback, Neuville took the lead ahead of the other Toyota of Takamoto Katsuta, with Tänak third.

Ogier fought back the next day by clinching three stage wins, inheriting third after Tänak was forced to stop to clear a misted windscreen. Neuville then retired on day three after a damper failure, while Ogier overhauled Katsuta with one stage to go, enabling him to extend his championship lead over Evans to 33 points. In the manufacturers’ standings, Toyota Gazoo Racing is now ahead of Hyundai Shell Mobis by 59 points.

The Nascar Cup Series was another sport where Toyota came up on top, after Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch took an incredible win in the second race at the Pocono Raceway. He overcame a stuck clutch in his M&M’s-sponsored Camry that left him stuck in fourth gear, and had to cruise to save fuel as the leaders were forced to pit in the closing stages. Bubba Wallace took his first top-five finish of the season, also in a Camry.

Staying in the United States, Mazda won the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with Harry Tincknell, Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito in the #55 Mazda RT24-P. The team made a shorter pitstop to jump to the head of the pack and had to save fuel to make the finish, with Tincknell grounding to a halt on the slowdown lap. The victory comes two years on from the RT24-P’s first victory and on the 30th anniversary of the 787B‘s win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also wearing #55.


In MotoGP, it was Yamaha’s turn to take victory in the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen. Fabio Quartararo started second but took the lead from teammate Maverick Viñales into Turn 1, before making a mistake and falling behind Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia. He then made his way past on lap 11.

Viñales, recovering from fourth, slipped into second on lap 15 after Bagnaia was slapped with a penalty for breaching track limits. Quarataro extended his lead in the championship to 34 points, while Viñales announced his departure from the team less than 24 hours later.

Over to you now – which was your favourite race on Sunday and which do you think bears the most relevance to road-going Japanese vehicles? Sound off in the comments after the jump.

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