2018 JMRCA ALL JAPAN CHAMPIONSHIP
JULY 20-22 , TAKAHARA, JAPAN
The Japanese National Championships are particularly special for Infinity. As a Japanese company, given that the JMCRA title is the top prize RC racing has to offer in our home country, we take extra special pride in this prestigious title. Having made our JMRCA EP debut in the event last year, the introduction year of our IF14, we achieved the perfect result. Akio became the champion with Naoto making it an Infinity 1-2. So no pressure then as the team travelled to the 2in1 Circuit in Takahara Resort as the defending champions. This year however we bolstered the team with the addition of Jin Sawada and that was to reap the rewards.
After the single round of seeding practice it was Naoto who led the way for the team with the second fastest time over 3-consecutive laps. Behind, Akio managed third fastest with Jin right behind so everyone was feeling confident ahead of the six rounds of qualifying that lay ahead. In the opening qualifier it was Akio that had the best pace posting the 2nd fastest time by less than 3/10th of a second ahead of Jin with Naoto fourth following a late error. A solid Q1 performance, the drivers could push harder for Q2 and that is exactly what they did to take control of the remaining 5 qualifiers. Naoto claimed the first Infinity TQ when he led a 1,2,3 for the IF14 ahead of Jin and Akio in the second round. Next it was the turn of Jin to go to the top while Akio added a TQ run in Q4. The penultimate round saw Jin again go fastest to become the first to double up as Akio had a P3 run.
With 3 from 6 rounds to count, the final qualifier would decide who was going to be Top Qualifier with four drivers in contention. Akio would come out on top taking Q6 in front of Jin to put the pair equal on points. Jin's time from the previous heat however was the quickest of the weekend and he was the one who would start the triple finals from pole ahead of Akio with Naoto lining up 4th.
The opening A-Main started with Jin and Akio pulling clear of the pack but on his third lap Jin lost the rear of his car spinning out and allowing Akio go to the front. While Naoto had got passed 3rd place qualifier Yugo Nagashima for 2nd, the gap to Akio was considerable. With a super fast car he closed him down to run on his rear bumper, even giving Akio a tap to doubly make sure he knew he was there. With four laps to go Akio clipped the curbing entering a corner causing him to run wide on the exit as Naoto slipped through for the win.
After ending A1 down in 5th, Jin made sure he didn't repeat his error in A2 and claimed a tone to tone win despite also getting a tap from behind from Naoto. Naoto again had another strong race from fourth on the grid to finish second having got by Akio on the third lap with a nice pass down his inside coming off the main straight. Closing right in on Jin, he couldn't find away through and soon found himself under attack from behind from Akio but the order stayed unchanged to the end. So like qualifying it was all going to come down to the last race to decide the winner.
Jin again made a good start but so did Naoto who was quickly battling with Akio for second - Akio having to work hard to keep him behind. Lap 4 brought the change as Akio ran over the curbing in the section before the main straight spinning across the bow of Naoto. While Naoto somehow avoided contact the following pack was less lucky. Hunting down Jin, Naoto would close the gap but not as quickly as he needed, eventually running out of time. Jin took the A3 win and with it the JMRCA title. A successful defence of the title as a manufacturer, the result was even more special than last year because we achieved a dream full Infinity podium with Naoto finishing second and Akio third. In the open class we also had a strong representation in the A-Main with Ion Shionoya and Shin Sawada, Jin's younger brother, finishing 7th and 10th respectively.
A brilliant performance from all the team, it is going to be hard to better the result in 2019 - but we sure will try!