The thing that any racing driver wants to do is race, so even when the call comes right at the last minute it's not a problem. This weekend Taku is back in F1 race action and the circuit is the scene of his best F1 performance to date.

Last year Takuma Sato, then driving for the Jordan-Honda team, had put on the best performance of his F1 career, qualifying in seventh place on the grid and racing home to a superb fifth place. For this year Taku adopted the position of third driver at the BAR-Honda squad and earlier this week it was announced that he had impressed the team sufficiently to gain a drive for next year. Instead of having to wait however, Taku's race call came up rather quicker than expected as outgoing driver, Jacques Villeneuve, opted not to drive this weekend, giving Takuma the ideal opportunity to make his F1 comeback at home.

Suzuka is where Takuma saw his first ever motor race and the impressive circuit holds good memories for the Japanese star. Seeing Grand Prix racing at Suzuka is part of the reason that Taku is where he is today. "The first motor race I saw was in 1987 at Suzuka," he explains. "I was a 10 year-old boy and it was like a ''Mega-Shock'' when I first saw Formula One cars!" That year it was the red and white McLaren Hondas of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna that were dominant in Formula One. "It was an amazing experience and I wanted to do it myself."

Taku began his racing at the Suzuka Racing School, where he proved to be the fastest driver and won a scholarship which launched his career. The rest, as they say, is history.

So after a season in which he has not raced, what was Taku's reaction when he was told that he would be racing this weekend? "This was not what I was expecting this weekend, and I cannot express how excited I am to be making my debut for BAR in front of my home crowd," Taku said. "It is going to be pretty crazy, but I am confident that I can do a good job."

The twenty-six year old star faces a tough task. Not only is he making a last-minute return to F1 racing, but the BAR-Honda team are embroiled in a battle for fifth place in the championship, with the team currently lying in sixth place, right behind Sauber. Last year Taku's performance in Suzuka helped push Jordan-Honda up to sixth in the championship, so maybe he can work the magic once more.

For Taku, Honda and tyre suppliers Bridgestone it's a home Grand Prix. Shuhei Nakamoto, engineering director for Honda Racing Development, explains what this means. "It's always a special feeling to race in front of our home fans at our home track, and with the competition so close for fifth place in the championship, we are looking forward to an exciting finish to the season."

At the end of the Japanese Grand Prix last year, Taku was understandably on a high. ''I'm happy to show everybody what I could do, just before the end of the season," he said at the end of that race. "It puts everyone on such a high and really makes me look forward to the next step.'' Lets hope for more of the same this Sunday.

 

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