2017 Super GT Series preview: 45 crews are ready for new season


April 7, 2017
Featured, News
Ian McLeigh


  • Super GT Series Japan

Another great season of the sports car racing in the far East is in front of us. Forty-five crews announced their participation in the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, the premier Japanese sports car competition, which will start on April 9 at Okayama International Circuit.

This will be the 13th season under the name Super GT or 24th edition of the championship since the foundation of the Japanese Grand Touring Championship in 1993.

Eight races on seven race tracks

Same as the year before, the 2017 season features eight rounds at seven venues. All the locations are the same. After being canceled because of an earthquake, the Autopolis round is returning to the calendar. Buriram United Super GT race at Thailand’s Chang International Circuit remains the only race outside Japan.

This season will be historic because the famous Suzuka 1000 km race is included into a calendar for the last time. In 2018, it will be replaced by 10-hour race at Suzuka Circuit, reserved for GT3 and GT300 machinery.

2017 Super GT Series calendar

RoundDateRace nameCircuit
1April 8-9Okayama GT 300 kmOkayama International Circuit
2May 3-4Fuji GT 500 kmFuji Speedway
3May 20-21Autopolis GT 300 kmAutopolis
4July 22-23Sugo GT 300 kmSportsland Sugo
5August 5-6Fuji GT 300 kmFuji Speedway
6August 26-27Suzuka 1000 kmSuzuka Circuit
7October 7-8Buriram United Super GT raceChang International Circuit, Thailand
8November 11-12Motegi GT 250 kmTwin Ring Motegi

Fifteen GT500 and thirty GT300 cars on the grid

Forty-five cars are announced as full-time entries for the 2017 season –  15 in GT500 class and 30 in GT300 class. More than 90 drivers are on the entry list, with lots of changes in the line-ups.

Reigning GT500 champions Heikki Kovalainen and Kohei Hirate will drive the #1 Denso Kobelco SARD Lexus LC 500 for Lexus Team SARD. In the GT300 class, Takeshi Tsuchiya retired after winning his first title and he will focus on a role of the chief engineer for VivaC Team Tsuchiya. His championship-winning partner Takamitsu Matsui stayed with the team. His new co-driver in the #25 Toyota 86 MC would be Kenta Yamashita.

Super GT cars during the pre-season test event at Okayama

Super GT cars during the pre-season test event at Okayama

Significant changes on the GT500 grid

There are few significant changes on the GT500 grid. Toyota’s WEC driver Kazuki Nakajima returns to Super GT for the first time since 2014, pairing James Rossiter in the #36 Lexus Team au Tom’s car.

Nissan GT Academy graduate Jann Mardenborough, after spending one season in GT300 class, is progressing to GT500 class to drive Team Impul’s #12 Nissan GT-R. His partner will be Hironobu Yasuda. Brazilian driver Joao Paulo de Oliveira is moving from #12 Nissan to Kondo Racing’s #24 Nissan, to share a car with Daiki Sasaki.

Drago Modulo Honda Racing left the championship after two seasons. Honda will continue to run five teams, with revived Team Mugen replacing Drago Modulo on the grid. Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima will drive Motul Mugen’s #16 Honda NSX-GT. Another Honda team, the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, promoted Takashi Kobayashi from GT300 to GT500 class, to share the #8 car with Tomoki Nojiri.

Takeshi Tsuchiya will not defend his title in the #25 Toyota 86 MC

Takeshi Tsuchiya will not defend his title in the #25 Toyota 86 MC

Porsche Supercup champion Sven Müller among rookies

In the GT300 class, there will be lots of rookies. One of them is the Porsche Supercup winner and Porsche factory driver Sven Müller, who joins D’Station Racing to drive the #33 Porsche 911 GT3 R. British driver Sean Walkinshaw is another rookie with lots of experience in other GT competitions. He will drive the #55 BMW M6 GT3 for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri.

From Australia is arriving Jake Parsons, who will have Super GT debut in the #26 Audi R8 LMS of Taisan Team SARD. Among Japanese rookies, there is former F4 champion Sho Tsuboi.

Lexus LC 500 is a new car in the Super GT Series

Lexus LC 500 is a new car in the Super GT Series

Lexus replaced RC F with LC 500

Among the manufacturers, the biggest novelty is a completely new Lexus in the GT500 class. The RC F is replaced by LC 500. Six Lexus LC 500s would be on the grid. Honda will continue to run five NSX-GT cars while Nissan will have four GT-Rs in the GT500 class.

In the GT300, Bentley Continental GT3 will make its debut in Japan with the new EIcars Bentley TTO team. Brand new car on the grid would be Toyota Mark X based on the MC (mother chassis) platform. Other cars in the MC sub-class are Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ or Lotus Evora. Among GT3 machines, the most represented are Nissan GT-R GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 with four cars on the grid.

2017 Super GT Series entry list

ClassNumberTeam CarDrivers
GT5001Lexus Team SARDLexus LC 500Kohei Hirate, Heikki Kovalainen
6Lexus Team LeMans Wako'sLexus LC 500Andrea Caldarelli, Kazuya Oshima
8ARTA - Autobacs Racing Team AguriHonda NSX-GTTomoki Nojiri, Takashi Kobayashi
12Team ImpulNissan GT-RHironobu Yasuda, Jann Mardenborough
16Team MugenHonda NSX-GTHideki Mutoh, Daisuke Nakajima
17Keihin Real RacingHonda NSX-GTKoudai Tsukakoshi, Takashi Kogure
19Lexus Team WedsSport BandohLexus LC 500Yuhi Sekiguchi, Yuji Kunimoto
23NISMONissan GT-RTsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli
24Kondo RacingNissan GT-RDaiki Sasaki, Joao Paulo de Oliveira
36Lexus Team au Tom'sLexus LC 500James Rossiter, Kazuki Nakajima, Daisuke Ito
37Lexus Team KeePer Tom'sLexus LC 500Ryo Hirakawa, Nick Cassidy
38Lexus Team ZENT CerumoLexus LC 500Hiroaki Ishiura, Yuji Tachikawa
46MOLANissan GT-RSatoshi Motoyama, Katsumasa Chiyo
64Nakajima RacingHonda NSX-GTKosuke Matsuura, Bertrand Baguette
100Team KunimitsuHonda NSX-GTNaoki Yamamoto, Takuya Izawa
GT3002Cars Tokai Dream28Lotus Evora MCKazuho Takahashi, Kiroki Katoh
3NDDP RacingNissan GT-R GT3Kazuki Hoshino, Mitsunori Takaboshi
4Goodsmile Racing with Team UkyoMercedes-AMG GT3Nobuteru Taniguchi, Tatsuya Kataoka
5Team MachToyota 86 MCNatsu Sakaguchi, Kiyoto Fujinami
7BMW Team StudieBMW M6 GT3Jörg Müller, Seiji Ara
9Pacific with Gulf RacingPorsche 911 GT3 RJono Lester, Kyosuke Mineo
10GainerNissan GT-R GT3Ryuichiro Tomita, Hiroki Yoshida
11GainerMercedes-AMG GT3Katsuyuki Hiranaka, Björn Wirdheim
18Team Upgarage with BandohToyota 86 MCYuhki Nakayama, Shintaro Kawabata
21Audi Team HitotsuyamaAudi R8 LMSRichard Lyons, Masataka Yanagida
22R'Qs Motor SportsMercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3Hisashi Wada, Masaki Jyonai
25VivaC Team TsuchiyaToyota 86 MCTakamitsu Matsui, Kenta Yamashita
26Team TaIisan SARDAudi R8 LMSShinnosuke Yamada, Jake Parsons
30aprToyota Prius apr GTKota Sasaki, Hiroaki Nagai
31aprToyota Prius apr GTKoki Saga, Rintaro Kubo
33D'Station RacingPorsche 911 GT3 RTomonobu Fujii, Sven Müller
35Panther Team ThailandToyota 86 MCNattavude Charoensukhawatana, Nattapong Horthongkum
48Dijon RacingNissan GT-R GT3Hiroshi Takamori, Masaki Tanaka
50Inging & Arnage RacingFerrari 488 GT3Akihiro Tsuzuki, Morio Nitta
51LM CorsaLexus RC F GT3Yuichi Nakayama, Sho Tsuboi
52Saitama Toyopet GreenBraveToyota Mark X MCTaku Bamba, Shigekazu Wakisaka, Takayuki Hiranuma
55ARTA - Autobacs Racing Team AguriBMW M6 GT3Shinichi Takagi, Sean Walkinshaw
60LM CorsaLexus RC F GT3Akira Iida, Hiroki Yoshimoto
61R&D SportSubaru BRZTakuto Iguchi, Hideki Yamauchi
65K2 R&D Leon RacingMercedes-AMG GT3Haruki Kurosawa, Naoya Gamou
87JLOCLamborghini Huracan GT3Kimiya Sato, Shinya Hosokawa
88JLOCLamborghini Huracan GT3Manabu Orido, Kazuki Hiramine
111Rn-sportsMercedes-AMG GT3Keishi Ishikawa, Ryosei Yamashita, Masayuki Ueda
117EIcars Bentley TTOBentley Continental GT3Yuji Ide, Ryohei Sakaguchi
360Tomei SportsNissan GT-R GT3Yusaku Shibata, Takayuki Aoki, Atsushi Tanaka

Photos: supergt.net,

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