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INDY Honda to Stop Hosting Japan IndyCar Race

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February 10, 2011

This year’s IndyCar Series race will be the last in Japan because of the economic downturn, a motor racing unit of Honda Motor Co. said on Wednesday.

Mobilityland Corp., a wholly owned motor unit of Honda which owns the Twin Ring Motegi circuit north of Tokyo, announced the decision.

The Indy Japan on Sept. 18 at Twin Ring Motegi was one of only two IndyCar races to be held outside of North America this year. The other was the Sao Paulo Indy in Brazil in May.

Twin Ring Motegi has hosted the Indy Japan since 2003. Before that, the 2.4-kilometer (1.5-mile) oval held rival Champ Car World Series events from 1998.

The decision by Mobilityland was the latest setback to auto racing in Japan as the country’s automakers look to cut costs and focus on their core business.

Honda and Toyota pulled out of Formula One in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Citing similar concerns to Toyota and Honda, fellow Japanese automakers Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championship before the 2009 season.

Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of IndyCar, said they were leaving the door open for future events at Twin Ring Motegi.

Angstadt said IndyCar was also keen to improve the series' popularity by improving live broadcast times in the United States, especially when the series was close to crowning a champion. The Indy Japan was the third-to-last event on the schedule and was commonly broadcast overnight in the U.S. when viewership was low.

This year’s series opens on March 27 at St. Petersburg, Florida. The 17th and last race in October has yet to be determined.

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