Satoshi Motoyama is one of the greatest Japanese racing drivers ever and an experienced racer with a career almost 30 years long. He is a household name and one of all-time greatest drivers in the Japanese premier championships, winning the Formula Nippon four times (1998, 2001, 2003, 2005) and becoming the Japanese GT champion three times (2003, 2004, 2008).
His success draws an attention of Formula One scouts and he was given a chance of testing Jordan GP car in 2004 and pre-season testing with Renault for 2004 season but with no contract. However, besides his involvement with Formula Nippon and Japanese GT championship, Motoyama was also a Le Mans driver which participated in famous race four times (1998, 1999, 2012, 2014). Unfortunately, he only managed to finish the race in 1999 and three other times crash or mechanical failure doomed his chances of finishing.
Memorable Le Mans attempt in a DeltaWing-Nissan
His memorable performance in 2012 was something you don’t see often in professional racing. That year, Motoyama raced experimental DeltaWing-Nissan which crashed after only 75 laps. Motoyama was not hurt and he stayed with the car for 90 minutes after the crash trying to revive the damaged experiment enough to get it to the pits. He used a pair of pliers and a screwdriver trying to fix it.
This kind of determination is rare in today’s motorsport and even though Motoyama didn’t fixed his DeltaWing he showed an almost samurai act and how dedicated he is.
He came back to Le Mans in 2014 with another experimental car, a Nissan ZEOD RC, but just five laps after the start his car was broken down and out of the race.
Six seasons in the Japanese Formula 3
Born in 1971, Motoyama started his racing career in Japanese Formula 3 Championship in 1990, spending next six seasons in that competition. After racing for five seasons without wins, reaching only a couple of podiums, Motoyama scored his maiden F3 victory in 1995 and finished as a vice-championship that year, losing a title to Pedro de la Rosa.
In 1995, Motoyama also made a debut in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, driving a Toyota Corona Exiv for Object T team. Next year, he was driving Nissan Sunny or Nissan Primera in touring car races.
Racing in three championships at the same time
The season 1996 was also marked by Motoyama's debut in the Formula Nippon and Japanese GT Championship. It means that he competed in three championships that year. The highlight of the season was his maiden Formula Nippon podium at Sugo, where he finished third.
In 1997, Motoyama stayed in all three championships, achieving the best results in touring cars. He was a race winner two times in a Nissan Primera GT, ending a season in the third place.
Formula Nippon champion for the first time in 1998
In 1998, Motoyama reduced his schedule to two championships only, staying in Formula Nippon and GT Championship. Driving the #8 Reynard-Mugen for Team LeMans, he scored three wins and captured his first championship title.
In the JGTC, he was still without wins driving a Nissan Skyline GT-R for ARTA. He scored a maiden GT championship win in 1999 at Mine Circuit, finishing third in that year's final classification. In the 1999 Formula Nippon season, he won three races and finished second in the points, behind Tom Coronel.
Motoyama captured his fourth Formula Nippon title in 2005
Thre Formula Nippon titles with Team Impul
In 2000, Motoyama joined the Team Impul both in the JGTC and Formula Nippon. After finishing third in FN classification in 2000, Motoyama captured his second championship title in 2001, winning four races during the season in the #19 Reynard-Mugen.
It was the most successful period of a career for Motoyama because he added two more Formula Nippon championship titles to his account in the following years, in 2003 and 2005. His last FN season with Impul was 2007 and then he spent one more season with Team LeMans, leaving Formula Nippon after 2008.
Satoshi Motoyama in 2003
Three GT Championship titles with Nissan
In GT racing, Motoyama grabbed his first championship title in 2003, becoming a double champion that year. His partner in the championship-winning #23 Nissan Skyline GT-R was Michael Krumm. They won a championship without race wins, scoring four podiums in eight races.
In 2004, Motoyama defended a championship title in the #1 Nissan Fairlady Z, sharing a car with Richard Lyons. They were race winners two times. In 2005, the championship has been renamed to Super GT Series and Motoyama took the Super GT title in 2008, together with Benoit Treluyer in the #23 Nissan GT-R.
Satoshi Motoyama is a Super GT Series veteran with three championship titles
Racing in Super GT Series only since 2009
Since 2009, after he left Formula Nippon, Motoyama stayed regular competitor in Super GT Series only. He had two very good seasons since then, finishing third in the points in 2009 with two wins and becoming a vice-champion in 2011 with three wins. In both seasons, his co-driver was Benoit Treluyer.