Yesterday, it was officially announced by DF1 Racing and Marko Stipp Motorsport that they have officially signed Euro Series’ sole full-time Japanese driver Kenko Miura (三浦健光) for the 2020 season. Miura, who competed for Alex Caffi Motorsport for the previous three seasons, will be competing full-time in the EuroNASCAR 2 championship as the driver of DF1 and MSM’s co-operation entry, the No. 48 DF1-MSM Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
The announcement also confirms that DF1 Racing will continue their co-operation with Marko Stipp Motorsport despite the team having previously announced that their previous co-operation entry, the No. 22 team, will now be solely ran by DF1 in 2020.
“The cooperation is beneficial for all of us,” said Marko Stipp Motorsport team owner Marko Stipp in the official press release. Kenko is a good and experienced driver who has proven himself a lot of times in the past. With our know-how we want to have success with him and DF1 Racing. Together we are strong and we will prove that in 2020.”
Miura, who also works as a spokesperson for Toyota in his home country, has racked up a total of 46 starts across both classes in his Euro Series career so far. Miura made history in 2018 when he became the first Asian driver to score a podium finish in the Euro Series with his third-place finish in the first Elite 2 race at Zolder. Miura also won the Challenger Trophy that year, beating Dario Caso for the Challenger Trophy honors by 3 points and finished the year only 2 points behind 2000 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte in the final standings of the Elite 1 class.
“I would like to thank Alex Caffi for the great years in his team and his support,” said Miura in the official press release. “I have been exploring the possibilities, such as looking for a new engineer or to move to another category. At the end, I decided to join DF1 Racing. DF1 Racing have always delivered strong performances over the years and they have found a way to build fast cars. They have the necessary experience so that I can build on the successes of the past. Also, everyone in the team always has a smile on their faces, which I really like. In 2020 I want to be the first Japanese driver to make it into Victory Lane. I want to make it to the podium and achieve the best possible results. If I do my best, I’m sure it can be done.”
DF1 Racing’s Head of Motorsport Norbert Walchhofer states in the press release that he hopes that DF1 will be able to field the No. 48 team on their own by next season, with the goal of fielding an all-Asian driver lineup in the No. 48 team in 2021.
“I’m delighted to have this likeable racing driver in our ranks,” said Walchhofer in the press release. “Beside the technical side, we at DF1 Racing want to support Kenko’s PR and marketing activities in Japan more actively. We have already noticed Kenko in his debut year 2017, where he immediately clinched several top-10 results. We are therefore very pleased that Kenko will be part of the new cooperation, DF1-MSM Racing, in 2020.”
“For DF1 Racing, it is a great opportunity to make our team better known in Asia. We will also actively support this from Europe. We want to inspire Asian fans and also potential drivers with regular activities. We hope to be able to field a #48 NASCAR car in the NWES as early as the 2021 season, which will be manned solely by Asian drivers.”
The announcement also reveals the livery that will be ran by the No. 48 team in 2020. DF1 sponsors Grapos Soft Drinks and Kattus will help sponsor the co-operation entry, while Miura’s personal sponsors such as Gold Wolf Racing, Need’s 24, Next Innovation, and Arai will continue to sponsor him in 2020.
The 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season – along with all other forms of motorsport – is currently on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the season currently scheduled to start with the OMV MaxxMotion NASCAR Show at Autodrom Most on 20-21 June. The initial season opening round at Valencia has been postponed to late October, while the status for American Speedfest VIII at Brands Hatch is currently unknown as of today.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in the article are courtesy of DF1 Racing.