Calm control is the sign of a pro driver

16th MINI-Z Cup 2018 Final Championship (report)

MINI-Z racers who have qualified through regional events have earned the right to contest for the title of Japan’s No.1! For everyone who enjoys driving the MINI-Z, this is the ultimate goal.

Simply participating in the race brings an honor itself. There are two racers who have competed in all 16 MINI-Z Cup events. We discuss the MINI-Z experience with one of these racers, Mr. Shinobu Asaba.

Interview :JAPAN POST TRANSPORT Co.,Ltd. Tokyo branch Nakano Sales OfficeSection Manager : Mr. Shinobu Asaba

Mr. Asaba photographed with a KYOSHO mini car (1/43 scale TOYOTA Hiace 2004 Postal Truck Red) in his hand at his workplace.

Was it coincidence or fate? Mr. Asaba celebrated his 45th birthday during the 2018 MINI-Z Cup Final Championship where he was presented with a special award for his 16 consecutive years of participation.

“I couldn’t help feeling something” the first time I participated back in November 2002 at the MEGA WEB / Odaiba in the district qualifying event.

“As this was the first official MINI-Z event, there was a certain ‘launch-party’ atmosphere, that felt like a social event rather than a race. As I had some experience in R/C car races, this was a unique experience for me”.

I entered in the C-Car class, which was the first race in the schedule. I won and became the first winner of a MINI-Z Cup race, and for about 10 minutes (until the end of the next race) I was the only MINI-Z Cup Champion in the world! I still remember that moment so well.

Having enjoyed 1/10 scale R/C cars, Mr. Asaba tried the MINI-Z as it was easier to enjoy and the cost was lower than other cars.

“As I live in Tokyo, I usually catch the train to work. I can carry the MINI-Z and everything I need in one bag so it’s easy to enjoy after work. It also has a spectacular finish to the body and it’s just so easy to operate”.

But the performance is simply amazing! That's why I became hooked on the MINI-Z and love racing at the MINI-Z Cup. In addition, I love the MINI-Z Cup concept where anyone can challenge to be No.1 in Japan! This is like Japanese anime, where an ordinary person can compete in a national competition.

The MINI-Z Cup provides a way to experience racing against the entire country, aiming to be No.1 in Japan…this just doesn’t happen in everyday life.

There’s another reason I race in the MINI-Cup every year, and that is the social aspect. My other interest is photography, but that is rather an individual hobby. The MINI-Z Cup brings my friends and me together.

Working fulltime, it’s hard to make friends outside of work, but thanks to the MINI-Z and the MINI-Z Cup I have friends all over the country. I also have lots of friends on social networking sites that I met through MINI-Z racing.

That is why I really appreciate the way the MINI-Z has influenced my life. While I’m still motivated to keep the 100% Participation Prize, I also like seeing my MINI-Z Cup friends from all over the country.

My Asaba is a huge MINI-Z fan and loves to talk about his cars. There are many proud achievements in past MINI-Z Cup campaigns, but I regard the Volkswagon Beetle as the “best racing partner for me”.

I reached the podium 3 times at the Final Championship with the Beetle. I get asked if I like the Beetle as a full-sized car but actually I have no preference when it comes to actual cars. Even now I only have a general knowledge of full-size cars.

When using the Beetle body, it’s important to prevent the car from falling down with the high center of gravity from the HM mount on the chassis. In particular, reduce the tire thickness and the grip of the front tires.

What is an important driving tip?

Getting the feel that you are riding in the car is important. I won the Compact Class at the Final Championship and I have experience driving postal cars in my job so I understood the large roll characteristic of lightweight and tall vehicles.

I was experiencing this with real cars so I knew how steadily the car would lean when steering the MINI-Z as well.

I am also good at avoiding cars running in front of me. It’s not only from my work, which involves a lot of driving in traffic where maintaining a safe distance is important, its also keeping concentration.

In short, it is more important to drive carefully than to drive fast. This applies equally to both the MINI-Z and full-size cars.

When I drive the MINI-Z, I try to drive carefully. Actually I think the way I drive at work subconsciously affects the way I drive the MINI-Z without me realizing it, or is it the other way around; the way I drive the MINI-Z affects how I drive for work!