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Noritake Takahara

6th June 1951 (Age 69)
Most recent race (in database):

Noritake Takahara’s three decades in motor racing began driving a Honda S800 in 1969. He was soon competing in Japanese Formula 2000 (the equivalent of Formula 2) and Grand Champion sports car series. He qualified a Brabham BT36-Mitsubishi on pole position for the first F2000 race to be held – the grandly titled 1972 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji – but he did not figure in the race.

Formula 1 and F2 in Europe

As well as his domestic commitments, Takahara drove a GRD 273-Ford in the 1973 European F2 race at Estoril only to crash during the first heat. He then rented a March 741-Ford to finish 11th in the 1974 International Trophy at Silverstone and thus become the first Japanese driver to compete in a Formula 1 race, albeit a non-championship affair.

Takahara drove a March 742-BMW in Japanese F2000 – winning the 1974 championship and only denied in 1975 by the slenderest of margins. A switch to Kojima Engineering’s Nova 512-BMW for 1976 saw Takahara regain his F2000 crown and win the Grand Champion title for the third time that year.

Twice a Grand Prix driver

Japan hosted a round of the F1 World Championship for the first time in 1976 – Fuji’s dramatic title decider between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Three local drivers arranged one-off drives including Takahara who qualified the second Surtees TS19-Ford on the penultimate row and finished a creditable ninth in the Japanese downpour. He entered the race again in 1977 in one of two Kojima KE009-Fords but he crashed on the second lap.

The competitiveness of his Nova chassis was on the wane in F2 and he did not win a race during 1977 or 1978. He switched to a new Harada Racing March 792-BMW in 1979 and was third at Suzuka. That was his last season in the category but Takahara continued in sports cars, both in the national series and when the world championship visited Japan, until 1986.