24/26 May, 2024

The Japanese National Championship took place in a single event at MIE, hosted by IFS, the venue that recently held the World Championship in 2023. About seventy drivers from all over Japan, along with one participant from Australia and one from the Philippines, came to compete.

The weather was variable throughout the weekend with brief showers and a bit of wind blowing from left to right. However, the conditions did not affect the conduct of this splendid event. Despite the imperfect weather in the early days, the track had medium/good grip, and all participants were able to set up their models right from the start of free practice.

The INF1NITY group was probably the largest, with a mix of drivers and customers that created excellent chemistry in the pits, fostering camaraderie and shared enjoyment during breaks in the competition.

Qualifying saw a great performance from Naoto Matsukura, who took TQ ahead of local hero Tadahiko Sahashi. Sahashi had to fight until the last qualifying round with Takaaki Shimo to secure direct access to the final. Shimo had to settle for the number 1 spot in semifinal A, relegating reigning champion Shoki Takahata to fourth place and the top spot in semifinal B.

The lower finals took place on Sunday, when the wind changed direction, blowing from right to left, causing some concerns for all participants who had to quickly adapt to the new weather conditions. Once in the semifinals, it became clear that pit stops for refueling and tire changes would play a crucial role in the pursuit of victory.

The semifinals were of an exceptionally high level. Along with the lightning-fast Takaaki, Yuya Sahashi, young Michihiro Takayasu, and Norito Hirano positioned their IF18-3s in the fight for the title, making it to the final! Six out of ten models in the final were a significant achievement that fills us with pride.

The final was thrilling. Naoto shot off like a rocket, taking the lead and maintaining it for two-thirds of the race. Tadahiko tried to keep pace despite some difficulties. Shimo had to defend against Takahata in the first five minutes, losing a few seconds to the leading duo. After ten minutes, the positions were set with our drivers in the top three spots within a five-second span. Once Shoki was distanced, Takaaki began to impose his rhythm, closing in on Tadahiko. The turning point came at mid-race when, after a tire change, Shimo literally began to fly, reclaiming his position from Sahashi and catching up to Matsukura, who had to settle for the second step on the podium! Three IF18-3s in the top three spots for an all-INF1NITY podium... definitely a great result. A big thank you goes to all the mechanics who worked tirelessly in the pits, to the organization, and to the Federation for the successful execution of this event. Another round of applause to Shimo, Matsukura, and Sahashi for the fantastic result!! See you soon on the race tracks!

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