A beautiful, sunny day and twenty-four thousand fans packing Motegi’s grandstand for the 2017 edition of Honda Racing Thanks Day welcomed newly crowned MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Fellow HRC motorsport personalities including MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami, Trial riders Takashisa Fujinami, MXGP rider Tim Gajser, home star Takuma Sato (who this year became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500), Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne were also welcomed by the fans.
Bringing together official riders and drivers from Honda’s various motorsport programmes, the event offers fans and their families the opportunity to meet and greet their heroes in a relaxed and easy-going context.
“I really enjoy Honda Racing Thanks Day because every year it gets more and more interesting and enjoyable for us. Everything is always perfectly organized, and we get to try many different cars and bikes. This year, for instance, we had the chance to drive an F3 car. It was a new experience that I liked a lot, so thanks to Honda for this special treat. Today it was an honour to make a lap together with Takuma (Sato) who won at Indy!
“It was also very good to meet so many Japanese fans. When we come here for the GP they’re always so supportive and make us feel really welcome, so I’m happy to be here for them and to be able to celebrate another great season together. The Riders Title was our main target, but having also achieved the Triple Crown with the Constructors and Team Titles is a particularly special feeling.”
Marc and Dani began the weekend on Friday night with a dinner party at Tokyo’s Shangri-La Hotel, celebrating the conquest of the Riders, Constructors, and Team World Championships, and on Saturday they moved to the Motegi Twin Ring Circuit, where they enjoyed driving a Japanese F3 Championship machine for the first time.
“I enjoy this event very much. The season is of course demanding on the mind, as you must keep focused all the time, so it’s really nice when we come here in December when we’re completely ‘stress-free’ and can have fun with the cars and bikes. I really enjoyed driving the F3 car; I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at Honda Racing Thanks Day, and one of the best overall apart from riding my MotoGP bike! Last year we tried the NSX, which was very nice, but this time was even better—maybe because I could feel the air, like on my bike. It’s possible to brake so late into the corners, and the entire time that I was driving I was thinking about what it would be like in an F1 car! It was an amazing experience. I think this event is also very special for the fans because they can really get quite close to us, and we also have more time to dedicate to them. That’s great because when we come here for the race it’s more difficult to spend time with them. There’s always a great atmosphere here and just fun.”
Fans were able to watch the Repsol Honda duo having a great time taking part in two- and four-wheel races and exhibitions. Competitions using Karts, Super Cubs, and Honda Sport & Eco Fit cars (Jazz) were included in the track activities, and they even had the opportunity to give zip-lining a try before moving back to Tokyo in the evening for a night-time flight home to Europe.
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