Motegi, Japan, May 20, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver finished a disappointing 20th in his home country of Japan in the Firestone Firehawk 500 at the 1.549-mile oval racetrack at Twin Ring Motegi. Tora, in the ...
Motegi, Japan, May 20, 2001 - Walker Racing rookie driver finished a disappointing 20th in his home country of Japan in the Firestone Firehawk 500 at the 1.549-mile oval racetrack at Twin Ring Motegi.
Tora, in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO/Toyota/Reynard/Firestone car, was on the grid in 24th position with a speed of 207.630 mph when he started his second oval racetrack event ever.
"People think that to be able to concentrate at my home race is very difficult, but not for me this time thanks to my team," Tora said. "The car has improved since its first outing on Thursday and during qualifying the handling was the best I've ever had on an oval. The bad news is the speed was not quick enough to catch my rivals on the track."
During the final warm-up on race morning, Tora posted the 16th fastest time and felt confident going into the race.
"The warm up was very productive and we had a good feeling for the &race," said Tora. "At the start of the race, I was just able to avoid the &crash in front of me, that was good news. However, I had a stuck throttle &problem that started from lap 30 or so. Anyway I am sorry for my fans in &Japan that I could not finish in good shape."
Tora narrowly missed an opening lap accident between Christiano Da Matta and Bruno Junqueira and soon encountered a problem with his throttle sticking. He retired from the track after completing 51 laps.
"It was a great pity that we had mechanical problems during the race as Tora was doing a really good job in the opening stages of the race," said owner Derrick Walker. "For only his second oval race, he shows all the signs of mastering these types of tracks.
Round six of the FedEx Championship Series will be contested on the 1-mile oval at Milwaukee, Wisconsin during The Miller Lite 255 on Sunday, June 3.