Matsuura Lands Indycar Ride
January 9, 2004 | 11:21 A.M. EST
Matsuura's outing the first time he climbed into an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series car further validated his abilities and prospects.
On Friday, Super Aguri Fernández Racing announced that the 24-year-old resident of Aichi, Japan, would drive its No. 55 Panasonic ARTA entry in the 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season.
"I was very impressed with what I saw (at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 12) and believe Kosuke is going to do a good job for us," team co-owner Adrián Fernández said. "Obviously, there will be things to learn, but I think he has what it takes to be very competitive.”
Matsuura may be new to an IRL IndyCar Series machine, but his racing experience is deep and impressive. He finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, claiming three victories and five additional podiums. Matsuura also was a force in German Formula 3 competition, finishing second in the 2002 championship with two victories and six pole positions.
"I have been supporting Kosuke Matsuura through the ARTA (Autobacs Racing Team) Project since he was competing in karts," said team co-owner Aguri Suzuki, who founded the program and is a former Formula One driver. "He is very decisive and clever when driving, and he is very fast. I am looking forward to the first win for Super Aguri Fernández Racing."
Team managing director Tom Anderson is equally upbeat.
"We are very impressed with Kosuke's natural driving ability and appetite for speed," he said. “Kosuke has had enough experience to understand the details of the sport, and has shown in his first three tests the ability to learn very quickly – a trait needed for success in the IndyCar Series."
Matsuura, who began his career in karts at the age of 14, will make his U.S. racing debut when the IRL IndyCar Series begins Feb. 29 with the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"It has been my dream to race in a top category and also in the United States," said Matsuura, "so I am very happy to be able to compete in the IndyCar Series."
The 2004 season will mark the second year of IRL IndyCar Series competition for Super Aguri Fernández Racing. John Dick returns as race engineer and Steve Ragan as chief mechanic. Roger Yasukawa was the driver for the team in its inaugural season, finishing 12th in the points standings. He had six top-10 finishes, with a best of seventh at Kansas and California.