Japanese FIA F4

HFDP Drivers' Documentary 2024 ~Ryota Horachi~

HFDP Drivers' Documentary 2024 ~Ryota Horachi~

Ryota Horachi who made debut to the 2024 FIA-F4 series from HFDP with B-Max Racing Team that has renewed its structure from this season is none other than a 17-year old student currently

doing high school studies. After finishing 3rd in the first race of the opening event on the other day, Horachi approached his team mate, Yuto Nomura, a senior driver albeit only for a year to himself, and said something that might sound harsh to those who were not in the know. It was a tensed moment, obviously.

On Lap-12, as the safety car withdrew to the pit lane and the race was restarted, Horachi made a move to Nomura running in front at virtual 2nd, accelerating hard by using slip stream into Turn-1 of Fuji Speedway, and tried to get jump on Nomura, his senior team mate, but an immediate rival in the race. 

Horachi almost succeeded to get ahead of Nomura from outside, however, Nomura was not ready to yield and resisted stoutly by braking very late into the corner. In doing so, Nomura had his wheels locked momentarily and run slightly wide. A puff of burnt rubber eloquently showed that Nomura was at the limit in defending his position from Horachi. A highly likely case of mutual destruction if either one or both of drivers were inept at close battle. As a matter of fact, Horachi was watching Nomura’s move very carefully, and barely avoided contact by changing his line. It’s why he delayed coming out from the corner, and thus, an abortive overtake maneuver in the result, had to start the pursuit game all over again.

The 2-car formation stayed that way till to the end, and both Nomura and Horachi got on the podium finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. After the race, Horachi thought he should talk with Nomura about the Lap-12 skirmish, so he approached Nomura as soon as the post race routines were over. Team director, Hideki Muto watched their exchange nearby, but was never intending to step in it.

“They had a near miss today. I understand Horachi’s frustration coz he had upper hand at that, slightest but certainly. On the other hand, Noguchi had the right to defend his position. Everyone has his own idea about what to do. That’s the race, isn’t it? Most important thing is to talk each other. Then, just by doing so, they come to know each stand point, and that’s nice.”

Horachi had competed last year in the FIA-F4 series on private basis while studying at HRS (Honda Racing School), and finished the season in 10th overall with three 4th places at his highest. Granted the HRS scholarship and newly joined in HFDP, Horachi finished 3rd in his debut race run under the new regime. Regardless of all those experiences that Horachi has gone through, Muto rates his achievement as highly as ever.

“Horachi’s car had some trouble today that he could run only 10-minutes, a half of the time originally given. But Horachi kept his head cool. He had to run all alone while others gained times using slip streams each other, but his time was not bad at all.”

Horachi had to start the race form 6th grid, but he steadily raised his position and began scrambling with Nomura for 2nd place.

Muto said, “I’ve never seen Horachi racing before, and preconceived that his style would be a bit more slapdash. But actually, it’s just the opposite. He definitely saw everything that happened around him and acted as occasion might demand while evading possible dangers. Although he ended up in 3rd place this time, he showed the potential to get even better. The best part is yet to come, I dare say.”

Horachi was doing Kids Kart ever since he could remember under tutelage from his father who had enjoyed racing kart himself as a hobby. He ranked 3rd in the OK class of the 2021 All Japan Karting Championship to which he made debut at the age of 14. Horachi said he had intended to “go to F1” at that time.

“I remember that I wanna be a professional racing driver when I was a first grade student at elementary school. I didn’t know there’s a race called F1 then, but I was wondering what it’s like the top notch race. If F1 is the one, I’d like to go there. That’s had become my dream, and I’ve tired my best to realize it ever since.”

In 2022, Horachi entered HRS. He had studied 4-wheel racing while competing in the OK class kart, but never reached the scholarship. But in 2023, he was given a second chance to study at HRS for another year with the runner-up status in the scholarship which eventually led to the HFDP entry in this season.

Asked about his own personal hero, Horachi in pursuit of F1 dream replied promptly, “Takuma Sato!” Takuma Sato debuted F1 in 2002, transferred to the Indy Car series in 2010 and is still active in the scene. Horachi was born in 2006, and therefore, he had no chance to watch Sato actually driving F1 car.

“I was too small to recognize it. Afterwords, I came to know all his achievements, and naturally admired the greatness of the driver as well as the individual person. And, on top of it, he’s the principal of HRS. I respect him more than I could ever describe,” Horachi said.

How Horachi has thought about Muto, then? The director of HFDP who has acted as a sort of mentor for him. “Director Muto is a fine person. He gives us the right advice about the race, and entertain us with various anecdotes, not necessarily related to racings, and makes the atmosphere happy and congenial.”

Muto himself admitted that’s exactly what he was expecting.

“Horachi is young and has no social experience whatsoever. HFDP is a formal organization in many ways, so I was thinking it might choke him up a little bit. That’s why I’m deliberately trying to soften the atmosphere. I can recall how was I at the age of 17, it’s terribly green and uncontrollable. He has talent, Horachi, no doubt about it. I want him to enjoy racing, and at the same time, I don’t want him relax too much. Such adjustment between soft and hard is very difficult. Anyway, I just want to convey what I’ve known through my experience to them in a feasible manner. In that context, I think I have to hit one sore spot about Horachi, he doesn’t know how to speak, that is. He sometimes talks like friends to a superior staff. Even to his senior team mate, he might well call “Nomura-kun,” for instance. In such case, I tell him off immediately, “You shoulda said ‘Nomura-san,’ not ‘-kun,’ for heaven’s sake. Got it, you punk?” Something like that (laughs.)”

As explained, Horachi is now under the attentive care by wonderful senior members who have plenty of experience and achievement. His objective is crystal clear: Just win the race. And in that way, he thinks he can banish the chagrin still smoldering in his mind that he could not win the OK class of the All Japan Karting Championship.

“My on-going task is to win races in the FIA-F4 series. The racing has got meaning only when it was won. I started from 6th gird today, and made up my position till to the point that I might win if things went my way. So, it’s really hard to accept the fact that I couldn’t win the race. I need to win the race that I could win. That’s the biggest goal of mine for now.”

The 2nd event of the 2024 FIA-F4 series will took place on June 1 (Sat) - 2 (Sun) at Suzuka Circuit where Horachi is aiming at his personal goal in front of the home crowd.

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