Sunday, 1 August 2010
Japan's Takeda Kanami was the first woman to race in the Asian Touring Car Championship, in 2002. In her first race, at Subic in the Philippines, she surprised and delighted the crowd by finishing second in Class B, behind Asian racing veteran Danny Stacy Chau, of Hong Kong, and sixth overall. In the second race she did not fare quite as well, but came away with a fourth position.
At the next meeting, Takeda recovered well after a mishap in her Peugeot 306, but did not mount the podium. That she saved for rounds five and six, at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. She was fourth in round five, but third in round six, after a battling drive in wet, demanding conditions. She was applauded by spectators and team personnel alike.
This is all pretty remarkable, given that Takeda didn't start racing until 2001, when she drove in Formula Suzuki in her native Japan. For 2003, she switched to a Honda, contested three Asian Touring Car rounds and did some karting. At least one of the Asian races may have resulted in a win, as part of the Project Mu team.
Takeda does not appear to have competed in 2004, sticking to her race instruction and TV commentary work, and her other sporting interest - fishing.
She returned in 2005. At home, she took part in the Toyota Motor Sports Festival, alongside some superstars of Far Eastern motorsport. She also entered her first races outside Asia, as part of a team running a Lexus RX400h. With co-drivers Marc Duez, Kikuchi Yasushi and Gotoh Hitoshi, she took on the gruelling Nürburgring 24-Hour race in May. The team was 79th out of a large field, having fought back from a place in the low hundreds. Later in the year, the Japanese-Belgian crew tackled the Dubai 24 Hours, coming a respectable 14th this time.
In 2007 Takeda returned to the Nürburgring, as part of a different team this time. The Toyota Altezza of Team Gazoo was piloted by Takeda, Takagi Minoru, Naruse Hiromu and Frank Janssen. They were 105th.
Takeda's recent activities are unclear at the moment, and my research is limited by the fact that I do not read Japanese.
(Image source unknown)