Three World Touring Car drivers, all hailing from Japan, produced a solid debut showing in the latest round of the Championship at Monza.
Max Orido, Yukinori Taniguchi and Takayuki Aoki all competed for the first time in Italy in order to get some vital knowledge of the series in time for what will be their home round in Okayama later this month.
Of the trio, Orido was the most successful as he embarked on his first competitive outing driving a fourth Chevrolet Lacetti alongside Rob Huff, Alain Menu and Nicola Larini. Finishing 15th in the first race, he followed that up with 17th in the second.
“Fortunately I managed to avoid the accident in front of me in the first corner so once past that I could concentrate on my own race. I had a good fight with Aoki-san for almost the whole race, but I'm glad I came out on top and finish first of the Japanese drivers.
“In the second race I unfortunately broke a drive shaft in the warming up lap, so after repairs I had to start from the pitlane. But I had a great race again to finish 17th.”
Taniguchi, driving the N.Technology Honda Accord, endured a difficult weekend, finishing 21st in the opening race before retiring in the second. Nonetheless, he is confident of a much improved showing in Japan around a circuit he has raced at before.
"Today was definitely a good experience. I am happy with the result in the first race as I moved up some places from my qualifying position and have learnt a lot. I am used to the Okayama track so now I am ready to start preparing myself mentally for that challenge."
Aoki, meanwhile, put on a fine debut performance in the Wiechers-Sport BMW 320si, finishing 16th overall in his first race but, more importantly, claiming a solid fourth in the Independents' Trophy ahead of more experienced team-mate Kristian Poulsen. He retired in the second race.