By Mike Garrison
Race Report from the Asian On-road Championship - written by Carl Hyndman:
Champions Crowned at 2017 AOC Japan at Yatabe Arena
The 2017 AOC series comes to an end at Yatabe Arena after a great series that spanned five events over the 2017 season. Befitting an awesome finale, the drivers enjoyed high-grip, carpet racing with a very deep and competitive field with many coming from all corners of the planet. This event used a double A-main format with the best result between the two mains counted toward an overall winner. Ties were broken by overall laps and best time.
In the Modified Touring Car class presented by Scorpion Power Systems, it was German ace Ronald Volker driving his Yokomo BD8 who put on a clinic. He dominated throughout qualifying, at times was pressured by XRAY’s Alexander Hagberg and Infinity’s Akio Sobue for the coveted points, but stayed composed despite some bad luck in the fifth qualifying round. Starting up front in the first main, Volker used his advantage to grab the win in the double a-main format, followed by Infinity’s Akio Sobue in second and a strong effort by XRAY’s Alexander Hagberg to move up to third from fourth on the grid. In the second main, it was once again Volker who led from start to finish to grab the prestigious title.
In Modified 1/12-scale presented by Yokomo, XRAY’s Alexander Hagberg started off strong by grabbing TQ in a field that included the front runners all within a second of each other. However, TQ is no guarantee and in the first main Hagberg bobbled in the chicane in the middle, relegating him back to third and allowing CRC’s Hayato Ishioka and Akio Sobue driving a Team Bomber to get by. Ishioka didn’t let his chance elude him, and he stayed up front for a flawless run to claim the victory with Sobue and Hagberg in second and third for A1. But, 1/12 is as much about consistency as it is outright speed, and this main was all about Hagberg who went flawless and stayed fast to the horn in convincing fashion. Keep in mind, a tie in points goes to laps and time, and Hagberg had enough to clinch the overall by a slim margin of around six seconds.
Stock 1/12-scale also presented by Yokomo included a strong group of racers using Blinky rules to keep things close and competitive. In the first main Shinomiya Takaeshi used his TQ with devastating results, slowly gapping the rest on the way to victory. Seijl Usul settled for second with Hideharu Seto in third. In A2 it was again Shinomiya Takaeshi who used his up front advantage to lead the front-runners around the track, only this time it was much tighter. In fact, the race came unraveled in the last minute with Seijl Usul making a late charge on the leader. But, a bad turn in the sweeper broke Seijl Usul’s car and ended his hopes for the victory allowing Shinomiya Takaeshi to go two for two and the overall victory.
F1 presented by Sweep is always fun to watch with open-wheeled racing, spec power and tires to help keep the racing close and competitive. In A1, it was the skill of the Pole Position owner Toto Ebukuro driving his Yokomo to grab A1. But, although he had a sizable lead, a late mistake created intense racing between Ebukuro and Satoshi Yamazaki. Fortunately for Ebukuro, his bad luck was overcome and he held on for the win. In A2, the two up front held their positions all the way to the end and posted mirrored results from the first main. This resulted in the duo grabbing gold and silver, leaving Hiroshi Sekiguchi to grab bronze.
13.5 Boosted Touring Car presented by XRAY was all about the German they sponsor, Jan Ratheisky. He put on a dominating drive throughout qualifying and carried that to the mains, taking the first main only pressured by Takeshi Yokoyama for the first few laps before gapping him on his way to the win. In the second main, Ratheisky again started out good, but inside the first minute traction rolled his car coming on the straight allowing Dominic Quek to the front. But, that was short-lived and Quek stuffed a board leading to the infield allowing Ratheisky back to the front where he extended his gap and remained up front to the end and in doing so took the overall title.
17.5 Boosted Touring Car presented by XRAY was exciting and the first main saw a battle unfold between Takeshi Yokoyama (TQ) and Mizowaki Takuma with Takuma getting the better of the battle to take the win. But, the second main was a bit different, and this time Takuma kept the pressure on and once again found his way to the front for the overall title.
17.5 Blinky Touring Car presented by Infinity was all about the front two drivers in a battle that spanned almost the entire five minutes. But, in the end it was Kazuma Murai that went back to back wins for the overall with Tokimitu Asihara in second and Tomotaka Iguchi left to grab the last spot on the podium.