Heading East to Fuji Speedway
Toyota's F1 team will rekindle its rivalry against Honda on its home ground for the first time in 30 years at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.
Fuji Speedway has replaced Suzuka, Honda's home ground, as the venue for the Japanese
Grand Prix until 2008, after which the race will alternate between the two circuits, it was announced earlier this month. Toyota's team chairman Tadashi Yamashina on Tuesday welcomed the decision to allow the two venues to host the race alternately.
"The people of Suzuka supported the Grand Prix for a long time. Their effort to stage the race again paid off," he said. "It is also good that fans can go to see the race in either region. I feel nostalgia for the race 30 years ago and now F1 came back to the east."
Fuji Speedway, in the foothills of Mount Fuji, opened in 1965 and staged two F1 races in 1976 and again in 1977, when a spectator and steward died after a Ferrari driven by Gilles Jacques Villeneuve
ploughed into the crowd following a shunt.
Honda has its own circuits at Suzuka, 300 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, and at Twin Ring Motegi, 100 kilometres north of Tokyo.
Honda quit F1 in 1992 after eight successful years as an engine supplier to Williams, Lotus and McLaren but made a comeback in 2000 with an engine for the British American Racing outfit. Last season it started the championship as a full constructor.
Suzuka lost the right to stage the race because it hesitated to invest in renovation that was required for the renewal of the contract, said Honda's motorsports director Hiroshi Oshima.
"It's disappointing for the Suzuka Circuit to have the Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway this year, but it's good for the race to become more popular, because both fans in the east and west (of Japan) can watch the race," said Oshima.