Former GT500 champion and Drago Corse team director Ryo Michigami is returning to the cockpit of a Honda racing vehicle this September, as a one-off entry in the World Touring Car Championship JVC Kenwood Race of Japan at Twin Ring Motegi.
Michigami will drive a Honda Civic for Honda Racing Team JAS, alongside regular Honda drivers Rob Huff and Tiago Montiero of the Castrol Honda team, and JAS teammate Norbert Michelisz. The opportunity came about following the most recent WTCC round in Portugal, and after a successful test in Barcelona, Michigami is ready to make his racing return.
“I had a chance to test the Civic WTCC at Barcelona last week and was hoping for an opportunity to race it,so I’m very excited that I’ll be able to do this so soon,” Michigami said in an interview. “I was involved in the development of the Civic Type R, which was released last year, and had been watching the Civic WTCC closely as well.”
Michigami, 43, is best known for his 17 seasons competing in the top division of Super GT, from 1995 until his last full season of racing in 2013.
His finest moment in the series came carrying the Castrol colours like those of his fellow Honda drivers Huff and Montiero, when he won the 2000 JGTC GT500 championship for the Castrol Mugen x Dome Project team.
Paired with drivers Osamu Nakako and Hidetoshi Mitsusada, Michigami collected four podium finishes and finished all seven rounds in the points in his Castrol Mugen NSX to become the first driver to win the title without winning a race.
In 125 career starts, Michigami won eight races, took fourteen pole positions and 27 career podium finishes racing for Team Kunimitsu (1995), Dome/Mugen Racing (1998-2009), and Nakajima Racing (2010-2013) – plus a cameo appearance in the 2014 Suzuka 1000km for Team Mugen in GT300. He also won the Suzuka 1000km three times (1993, 2003, 2004) in the non-championship era.
The first of his Super GT victories came at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998, and he also won there in 2007.
Michigami is no stranger to touring cars either, having competed from 1996-97 in the All-Japan Touring Car Championship (JTCC). He finished fifth in the ’97 championship driving for Mooncraft Engineering in their JACCS Honda Accord. Michigami also raced for many years in Super Taikyu and its predecessors, mostly in front-wheel drive production cars.
Today, he is the director of a Drago Corse team that competes in both the GT500 class of Super GT, and in Super Formula.
Michigami added, “I will be racing with my heart and soul at Motegi and putting all my experience to best use. Honda and JAS Motorsport have given me a wonderful opportunity; the car felt consistently fast in Spain and I’ll definitely be well-prepared for the races in Japan.”
A beloved hero to the Honda faithful for many, many years, through the highs and lows of their time in Super GT – it’s great to have Ryo Michigami back behind the wheel for his first ever appearance in a World Championship event.