Ryo Michigami is a Japanese racing driver who most recently spent a season with Honda factory team in the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship. Earlier in a career, he has competed in the Japanese GT Championship (now Super GT) between 1995 and 2013. His biggest success is the Japanese GT championship title in 2000 when he was driving Honda NSX for Mugen Motorsports.
Carrer start in the Japanese Formula 3
Ryo Michigami was born on March 1, 1973, in Nara, Japan. He started his racing career entering the Japanese Formula 3 in 1993. His first full season followed in 1994, when he was driving Dallara-Toyota, for Now Motorsports, finishing fifth in the final standings with one victory and three podiums.
In 1994, Michigami finished fourth in the Japanese F3 Championship. He also made a debut in the All-Japan Grand Touring Championship, driving Porsche 964 for Team Kunimitsu in three rounds.
Michigami spent almost entire career driving Hondas
Relationship with Honda started in 1996
In 1996, Michigami started his relationship with Honda and that relationship is still very stable. He joined Mugen Honda team in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, driving Honda Accord. He finished fifth in the 1997 JTCC season.
In 1998, Michigami entered the All-Japan Grand Touring Championship to drive a full season for Team Castrol Mugen in the GT500 class. At the wheel of #16 Honda NSX, he scored two wins, finishing fourth in the points. His co-driver was Osamu Nakako. In 1998, Michigami also participated in Formula Nippon, scoring two podiums in nine races and he finished ninth in the points.
In 1999 season, Michigami repeated double schedule in the GT championship and Formula Nippon. In both competitions, he finished in tenth place.
Michigami's championship-winning Honda NSX
Without wins to 2000 Japanese GT championship title
Then, in 2000, Michigami's most successful season in a career followed. He became the Japanese GT Championship winner driving the #16 Honda NSX for Mugen Dome Project team. He took his first and only championship title without victories, scoring four podiums in seven races. He was a sole champion because he was sharing a car with two different co-drivers - Osamu Nakako and Hidetoshi Mitsusada.
In 2000, he also continued to drive in the Formula Nippon, scoring no wins or podiums with DoCoMo Dandelion team.
Third place in 2001 Japanese GT season
One more successful GT season followed in 2001 when Michigami was third in the final standings. Sharing a #1 Honda NSX with Hidetoshi Mitsusada, he won the season-opening race at TI Circuit and added one more podium at Suzuka.
In 2001 Formula Nippon season, Michigami scored five podiums and finished sixth in the points.
A double programme until 2006
Michigami continued with a double programme in the GT championship and Formula Nippon until 2006. In that period, between 2002 and 2006, he scored three GT wins, scoring his best result in 2006, when he was third in the championship points. In Formula Nippon, Michigami has never won a race and he left the series after the 2006 season.
Ryo Michigami (in the middle) at 2005 Le Mans 24h
Two Le Mans attempts with Dome prototypes
Michigami recorded two participations at 24 hours of Le Mans in 2004 and 2005, driving Mugen-powered Dome S101 LMP1 prototypes for two different teams. In 2004, he was a part of #9 Kondo Racing crew together with Hiroki Katoh and Ryo Fukuda. They retired after 206 laps.
In 2005, Michigami joined Jim Gainer international to drive #5 Dome at Circuit de la Sarthe. His co-drivers were Seiji Ara and Katsutomo Kaneishi. They retired after 193 laps.
Michigami scored his last GT victory in 2008
Starting with 2007 season, Michigami competed in GT championship only, continuing to drive Honda NSX for Dome Racing. He won the race at Twin Ring Motegi and finished fourth in the championship standings. His co-driver was Takashi Kogure.
In the 2008 Super GT season, Michigami scored his last victory in the series. He won the race at Sportsland Sugo, driving the #18 Honda NSX together with Takashi Kogure. They finished sixth in the championship points.
Ryo Michigami (left) and Takashi Kogure in 2008
Joining Nakajima Racing in 2010
Michigami spent one more season with Dome, competing for the team in 2009 and finishing sixth in the points. For the 2010 Super GT season, Michigami joined Nakajima Racing to drive a new Honda HSV-010 GT car. His co-driver in the #32 car was Yuhki Nakayama. They finished 14th in the points.
Michigami spent three more seasons driving for Nakajima Racing, scoring one podium in 2011 and two podiums in 2012. Yuhki Nakayama was his co-driver for two seasons, in 2013 he was joined by Daisuke Nakajima.
Working for Honda in Japanese championships
Michigami retired from professional racing in 2014, continuing to work for Honda both in the Super GT Series and Super Formula. He returned to the race track in a one-off appearance at Suzuka 1000km race at Suzuka Circuit, driving the #0 Honda CR-Z as a third driver for Team Mugen, next to Yuhki Nakayama and Tomoki Nojiri. They finished 8th in GT300 class.
Ryo Michigami returned to racing in 2016
WTCC debut in 2016 and full season in 2017
Michigami made one more guest appearance in the Japanese round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, in September 2016 at Twin Ring Motegi. He was driving #34 Honda Civic WTCC for the factory team (Honda Racing Team JAS) alongside regular drivers Rob Huff, Tiago Monteiro and Norbert Michelisz. Michigami finished 11th in the first race and 17th in the second race.
For the 2017 WTCC season, Michigami signed for Honda Racing Team JAS as a full-time driver, together with Monteiro and Michelisz in other two factory-entered cars. Michigami scored just one podium over the season, at Macau Guia Circuit, finishing 14th in the final standings.