The IZOD IndyCar series has announced that it will not return to the Twin Ring Motegi in the 2012 season. The announcement means the end of a nine-year spell for the championship and a 14-year run for Indy-type cars at the Japanese track, which will host its final IndyCar race on Sept. 18 this year.
Mobilityland Corp., a wholly owned division of Honda which owns the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, announced the decision in Tokyo on Wednesday, citing the economic downturn as the reason. However, IndyCar officials, in their own announcement of the move, cited other reasons as well.
"We've enjoyed a great run at Twin Ring Motegi and thank our friends at Mobilityland and Honda Japan for hosting a great event over the past eight years," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division for IndyCar. "While our businesses move in different directions, we will keep the door open for future events at the track.
"As IndyCar and the IZOD IndyCar Series continue to evaluate their long-term plans, we must look to build the sport and its viewership. We believe it is important that the final few events on our schedule give us the opportunity to be broadcast live during times that maximize our viewing audience as we build up to the championship. We will continue to meet with promoters domestically and internationally that want to pursue an IZOD IndyCar Series event."
Motegi has hosted Indy Racing League-sanctioned races since 2003, an event won by Scott Sharp. Prior to that, Motegi hosted CART Champ Car races from 1998-2002. The track was the venue for Danica Patrick's first – and so far only – IndyCar win in 2007. It was also the first event outside of North America added to the IRL IndyCar series schedule.