- February 12, 1974
- Not Active
Toranosuke Takagi (also known as Tora Takagi) is a Japanese former racing driver who has championship titles in both of Japanese greatest racing competitions - Formula Nippon (today Super Formula) and Super GT Series. He was Formula Nippon champion in 2000 and Super GT champion in 2005.
Outside Japan, Takagi spent two seasons in the Formula 1 World Championship, driving for Tyrrell in 1998 and for Arrows in 1999. He also spent four seasons in North American open-wheel competitions between 2001 and 2004 - two CART seasons with Walker Motorsport and two IndyCar seasons with Mo Nunn Racing. He retired from racing at the end of 2008.
A son of a racing driver
Born in February 1974 in Shizuoka as a son of a racing driver, Tora Takagi started to race go-karts as a kid, entering his first karting championship in 1987. He was pretty successful in national karting competitions, winning several trophies, and then moving to car racing in 1992.
He first competed in the Formula Toyota and then progressed to Formula 3 in 1993. He spent two seasons in Formula 3, finishing tenth in the points in 1993 and sixth in the points in 1994.
1995 Formula 3000 vice-champion with Nakajima Racing
While racing in Formula 3, Takagi had been noticed by former Japanese F1 driver Satoru Nakajima who recruited him to his F3000 team. Takagi made three starts in the Japanese Formula 3000 in 1994 and then spent a full season with Nakajima Racing in 1995. He was a race winner three times, finishing the season second in the points. He was tied in points with Tom Kristensen, losing a title to Toshio Suzuki.
In 1996, the F3000 Championship was converted into Formula Nippon. Takagi stayed with PIAA Nakajima Racing for two more seasons. He won two races in 1996 to finish fourth in the points and then one race in 1997 to end a season sixth in the points.
Formula One debut with Tyrrell
During 1997, Takagi served as a test driver for Tyrrell F1 team, sponsored by the same company (PIAA) which sponsored Nakajima Racing. In 1998, Takagi was invited to drive for PIAA Tyrrell in the F1 Championship. He was driving the #21 Tyrrell 026-Ford, with Brazilian Ricardo Rosset as his teammate in the #20 car.
Both drivers stayed without points during the season. Rosset even failed to qualify for five races. Takagi participated in all sixteen races, finishing best in the ninth place at British Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix.
Second Formula One season with Arrows
Ken Tyrrell's team had been sold at the end of 1998 and converted into British American Racing. They didn't retain Takagi so Japanese driver joined Repsol Arrows. He was driving the #15 Arrows A20. His teammate in the #14 car was Pedro de la Rosa.
Takagi's results were slightly better than the year before. He finished seventh at Australian Grand Prix and eighth at Brazilian Grand Prix. However, he stayed without a point.
Victorious return to Formula Nippon in 2000
Takagi's Formula 1 adventure ended after two seasons and he returned to Formula Nippon in 2000, rejoining Nakajima Racing to drive the #0 Reynard-Mugen. His return to Japanese premier championship was fantastic as he won eight of ten races during the season, dominantly taking his first championship title in a career.
Takagi's result was the most dominant performance ever in the history of the championship. He lost just two races, retiring at Mine Circuit and finishing second in season's finale at Suzuka.
Two CART seasons with Walker Motorsport
A championship title gave a strength to Takagi for a new attempt outside Japan. He moved to the US to drive for Walker Motorsport in the CART FedEx Championship Series. At the wheel of the #5 Reynard-Toyota, he scored four top 10 results. His best result was the fourth place at Houston Grand Prix. He ended a season 21st in the points and third among rookies.
He spent one more season in Walker Racing's #5 Reynard-Toyota. He progressed to the 15th place at the end of the season with fourth place at Chicago Motor Speedway as the best result.
Two IndyCar seasons with Mo Nunn Racing
In 2003, Takagi moved from CART to IRL IndyCar Series, driving the #12 G-Force (Toyota) for Mo Nunn Racing. In June, he reached a podium at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing in the third place behind Al Unser Jr. and Tony Kanaan. In his Indianapolis 500 debut, Takagi finished fifth. At the end of the season, Takagi was tenth in the points.
In the 2004 IndyCar season, Takagi's best result was the fourth place at Homestead-Miami. He ended a year 15th in the final classification.
Victorious debut in the Super GT Series
After four years in America, Takagi returned to Japan in 2005 and conquered the Japanese GT Championship which was renamed to Super GT Series that year.
He was driving the #38 Toyota Supra for Zent Toyota Team Cerumo, sharing a car with Yuji Tachikawa. They were race winners three times in GT500 class, two times at Fuji and in the season's finale at Suzuka.
Three more seasons in Formula Nippon
Parallel to his commitments in the Super GT Series, Takagi also returned to Formula Nippon, driving the #12 Lola-Mugen for his own team Takagi Planning with Cerumo. Without wins or podiums, he finished 15th in the 2005 FN classification.
Takagi stayed for two more seasons in the Formula Nippon. In both seasons, he was driving the #8 Lola-Toyota for Team LeMans, finishing 18th in 2006 and 16th in 2007. It was his last season in open-wheel racing.
Racing in the Super GT Series until 2008
After his victorious debut in the Super GT Series, Takagi spent three more seasons in that competition. In 2006, he and Yuji Tachikawa were sharing the #1 Lexus SC430, scoring one victory and finishing fifth in the points of GT500 class. In 2007, their car was the #38 Lexus. They were race winners once and finished seventh in the points.
In 2008, his last competitive season, Takagi was sharing Team SARD's #39 Lexus SC430 with Andre Couto. After disappointing results, they finished only 21st in the points.