Who Is Ryo Hirakawa?

19-year-old Ryo Hirakawa of Japan has been announced as Dale Coyne Racing's driver for an upcoming test at Sonoma, which is subsequently the host of next round in the Indycar Championship. 

What do we know about Ryo Hirakawa? Not much. Information on him is very sparse. We know he is a very young 19 years old. We know he's from Japan. We know he won the 2012 Japan F3 Champion. He is currently 11th in points in the former Formula Nippon series (now called Super Formula) averaging a finish of 8.5 through the first four races. Other than that, I don't have too much info on him.

It was surprising to see Ryo get the test gig for Coyne for multiple reasons. For one, it was really random. Not sure any of us have ever heard of Ryo before it was announced he would test. Second, Ryo has a conflicting schedule for the race weekend of Sonoma, ruling out the possibility of him partaking in the race for Coyne. Is this a tryout for next year or is this test run just for shits and gigs on a Saturday afternoon?

KYGNUS SUNOCO Team LeMans (Akira Hirakawa car)
Ryo in Super Formula. Sick looking Swift Chassis (Photo: Toyota Racing)

Whatever the case may be, I will have my eyes on this young Japanese driver. Japanese drivers have come and gone in Indycar, with the notables including race winner Takuma Sato, Hideki Mutoh, Koskue Matsuura, and Tora Takagi. Sato has been the only one to obtain long term success, so we will see if Ryo gets his chance in Indycar.

But unfortunately for Ryo, a deal likely won't happen in 2013. It won't be with Dale Coyne baring they bring in a third car, which won't happen. Justin Wilson occupies the primary car full time. The team has a floating driver for the team's second car. Ryo can't race at Sonoma, Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin, has the car at Baltimore, Mike Conway at both Houston races, and Pippa Mann at Fotnana. Unless something monopolizes with another team, Ryo will have to wait till 2014.

Let's see what happens! 

-Matthew Hickey