With the season’s longest racetrack reconfigured to pose new challenges, plus Tokyo Bay winds that defy prediction, the race in Chiba demands power, precision and performance. Of course the cheers will be most ecstatic for Muroya, who flies number 31 for Team Falken. His 2016 victory – the first race win of his career – rocketed the Fukushima-based pilot to rockstar status. His second triumph came just weeks ago at the second stop of 2017, when he outflew a Final Four lineup including reigning World Champion Matthias Dolderer (GER) to claim top honors in San Diego, USA.
Now as Muroya looks to pull off a rare double repeat – two consecutive wins in a season, plus back-to-back victories at home – he finds himself in podium position (third) in the World Championship standings for the first time. One slim point separates him from an ever-confident Dolderer in second place, while six points stand between Japan’s hero and overall leader Martin Šonka (CZE), who won the season opener in Abu Dhabi. Names like Velarde (ESP), Podlunšek (SLO), McLeod (CAN) and Ivanoff (FRA) are also tightly clustered near the top, and every one of the 14 Master Class pilots is in the World Championship points. With six races to go, there’s still everything to play for, making Chiba a potentially pivotal showdown.