After three years in semi-retirement from racing, former Super GT driver and team principal Ryo Michigami will go back to full-time racing duties, as he joins the Honda World Touring Car Team for the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).
Michigami will drive the #34 Honda Racing Team JAS Civic, just as he did in his wild-card debut at Twin Ring Motegi last September, as part of a three-car Honda factory effort with teammates Tiago Montiero and Norbert Michelisz.
Michigami, 43, is Honda’s all-time most experienced Super GT racer, and in 2000, he drove the Castrol Mugen Honda NSX to the 2000 GT500 championship – the first Super GT championship for Honda.
Michigami spent seventeen of his eighteen seasons in JGTC and Super GT as a Honda factory driver, making 125 starts, winning eight GT500 races, and scoring 27 podiums with 628 career points.
He has spent the last two years as the team director of Drago Corse and Drago Modulo Honda Racing in Super Formula and Super GT, both of which suspended operations at the end of the 2016 racing season.
He made his WTCC debut at the JVC Kenwood Race of Japan last September, scoring an eleventh-place finish as his best result of the weekend in a fourth factory Honda Civic.
“As a Japanese driver, I’m extremely proud to be given the opportunity to represent a Japanese manufacturer in a World Championship,” Michigami said in a press release on Monday. “I’m aware that this season will be a huge challenge for me, but I will use all the experience I have gained during my career in Japan and I am incredibly motivated to perform strongly across the season.”
“I want to make this the pinnacle of my life in motorsport and together with Honda, JAS Motorsport, Tiago and Norbi, I will make the maximum effort possible to achieve this. I would also like to thank everybody in advance for their help and support in 2017.”
With his entry, Michigami will be the first Japanese driver to contest a full season in the WTCC.