Historical race disrupted by rain. Takaaki Shimo claims the coveted crown!
As a 1/8 GP Racing Car event in Japan, the Kyosho Grand Prix has historical significance. As such, the 30th Grand Prix was held this year. This event began almost at the inception of R/C racing in Japan, and has been held for almost 30 years.
Although this is a KYOSHO event, it is open to participants with any make of car. This means all members of the R/C community can compete to make their mark in R/C racing history. In addition, entrants could look forward to meeting and competing against four members of the KYOSHO works team, including drivers from as far away as America, such as Josh Cyrul, the 15-time American Championship winner.
The SPL Circuit is nestled deep in the forests of Sagamiko, and the chill of the December air was keenly felt. Under threatening skies with no sign of the sun behind the clouds, the race was started.
A total of 28 entrants were divided into four groups. The three preliminary rounds were 5 minutes each. Slower qualifiers were grouped into two groups (A & B) to compete in 15-minute quarterfinals. The top three from each quarterfinal advanced to either an A or B group semi-final. Then the top three from each semi-final joined the fastest qualifiers in the Grand Final. This allowed drivers who didn’t perform well in qualifying to still make it through to the Grand Final, and therefore kept everyone focussed to the end.
The KYOSHO works drivers set the pace during qualifying. Most drivers were running laps at 18 to 19 seconds, but Takaaki Shimo clocked at 17 seconds on his first round. Ken Furukawa and Josh Cyrul followed with 17-second laps to fill the top three qualifying spots.
Also drawing plenty of attention was Kazuki Kobayashi, and not just because he was a third grade elementary school student. Running in the same group as Takaaki Shimo, he constantly posted 18-second times to shock the older racers. Using a step for extra height so he could see out from the control stand, he seemed totally unfazed and generated plenty of speculation about his promising future.
Preliminary rounds progressed according to schedule until the last round of qualifying for the 3rd group. Then the heavens opened and the rain came down. Oil that had been absorbed into the track surface over many years rose to the surface to make it slippery. Control became difficult and as a result the race slowed down and then an official invalidated the heat. As the 3rd group were unable to finish their last round in the same conditions as the previous two groups, it was decided that qualifying would be taken from the first two rounds.
After lunch, the rain became heavier forcing officials to discuss whether to abandon the race or not. In the end, cancelling the race couldn’t be avoided. The race was decided on the results of the two rounds of qualifying. First place was awarded to last year’s winner, Takaaki Shimo while second was awarded to the fast improving Ken Furukawa with Josh Cyrul taking third. After the awards ceremony, in spite of all the rain, the podium was awash in Champagne as the three place winners let loose with a Champagne fight to bring the 30th Kyosho Grand Prix to a close. The 31st Kyosho Grand Prix is already planned for next year, and as explained earlier, anyone can join in the excitement of 1/8 car racing. We look forward to welcoming you there!