Takeshi Tsuchiya is a Japanese racing driver and team owner who was active in different Japanese championships between 1993 and 2016. Scoring many victories and podiums, he never managed to win a championship title until 2016, when he became the GT300 class Super GT Series champion, driving a Toyota 86 MC for his own team. After clinching a title, he retired from racing.
Variety of race cars early in a career
Born in November 1972, Takeshi started his racing career in 1993, participating at Suzuka 1000km, the greatest Japanese race, in a Honda Prelude. Next year, he returned to Suzuka in a Honda Civic. He also traveled to Europe to participate at Spa 24 Hours, where he was driving a Toyota Celica GT. In 1994, Tsuchiya also spent a season with Team Cerumo in the Japanese Formula 3, finishing 13th in the points.
In 1995 and 1996, he was driving a Porsche 911 GT2 for Team Taisan in selected races of the All-Japan GT Championship. He was also driving Toyota MR-2 in GT300 class in two races. In July 1996, Tsuchiya reappeared at Spa 24 Hours, driving a Toyota Celica.
Third place in two competitions in 1997
In 1997, Tsuchiya had parallel commitments in two championships, finishing in the third place in both. In the Japanese GT Championship, he was driving the #25 Toyota MR-2 for Tsuchiya Engineering, sharing a car with Masaoki Nagashima. Scoring one victory, they finished third in the final classification of the GT300 class.
Tsuchiya was also third in the Japanese Formula 3, in which he was driving a Dallara-Mitsubishi for the Team Nova Carisma Ralliart.
1998 – a season in a Nissan Skyline GT-R
For the 1998 GT championship season, Tsuchiya returned to the GT500 class, driving a Nissan Skyline GT-R for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri. His co-driver in most races was Satoshi Motoyama. Not scoring wins or podium, Takeshi was 12th in the points. In the GT300 class, the championship-winning car was a Toyota MR-2 prepared by his team.
In 1998, Tsuchiya also participated in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, driving a Toyota Corolla Exiv. Scoring two podiums, he finished 6th in the points.
Championship runner-up in 1999
In 1999, Tsuchiya was again in the GT300 class of the Japanese GT Championship, driving the #15 Nissan Silvia for Nismo. He and Yuji Ide were the race winner three times, losing a championship title by one point to Morio Nitta.
At Suzuka 1000 km, Tsuchiya joined Team Kunimitsu in a Honda NSX, finishing in the fourth place. Outside GT championship, Tsuchiya recorded some participations in Formula Dream races.
Driving Toyota Supra since 2000
For the 2000 Japanese GT Championship season, Tsuchiya joined Toyota Team Tom's to drive the #36 Toyota Supra in the GT500 class. His co-driver was Masanori Sekiya. Without wins or podiums, they finished 17th in the points.
In the same year, Tsuchiya was driving Dallara-Nissan in the Formula 3 and made a debut in the Formula Nippon with Kondo Racing.
Double programme since 2001
In 2001, Tsuchiya had a double programme, participating in two premier Japanese competitions – Japanese GT Championships and Formula Nippon. He continued to drive the #36 Toyota Supra in the GT championship, mostly with Takuya Kurosawa as co-driver. Tsuchiya ended a season 12th in the points.
In the Formula Nippon, he was driving the #56 Reynard-Honda for Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, finishing 8th in the points with three podiums.
Contesting in Formula Nippon until 2006
Tsuchiya remained on a double programme until 2006. For the 2002 Formula Nippon season, he joined Team LeMans to drive the #8 Reynard-Mugen. He scored four pole positions and four podiums to finish fourth in the points, what was his best FN result in a career.
He stayed with Team LeMans for three more seasons, finishing 8th in 2003, 13th in 2004 and 8th in 2005. In 2006, what was his last Formula Nippon season, Tsuchiya was driving the #37 Lola-Toyota for DHG Tom's Racing, finishing 13th in the points.
Five more seasons in a Toyota Supra
Between 2002 and 2006, while having a double programme, Tsuchiya spent all five GT championship seasons in a Toyota Supra GT500 car. In 2002, he was sharing the #36 car with Australian Wayne Gardner, finishing 7th in the points with two podiums. In 2003, his partner was Erik Comas and they were fifth in the championship, scoring two podiums.
In 2004, Tsuchiya again had a co-driver from Europe, the Italian Marco Apicella. They were seventh in the final standings. In 2005, an Australian James Courtney joined Tsuchiya in the #36 Toyota Supra. Scoring three podiums, they finished 4th in the points.
In 2006, Takeshi was driving the #25 Toyota Supra for Toyota Team Tsuchiya, sharing a car with Manabu Orido. They were far from the top, finishing 19th in the final standings.
Lexus SC430 came in 2007
In 2007, the Super GT Series remained the only competition for Takeshi Tsuchiya. Toyota introduced a new race car, the Lexus SC430. Tsuchiya continued to share the #25 car with Manabu Orido, again scoring no wins or podiums and finishing 17th in the points.
In 2008, Hiroaki Ishiura joined Tsuchiya in the #25 Lexus but the results weren't much better. They ended a season 15th in the points.
Return to Formula Nippon, GT season with Aston Martin
In 2008, Tsuchiya reactivated himself in the Formula Nippon, driving a Lola-Honda for DoCoMo Team Dandelion. Without wins or podiums, he was 17th in the final standings.
In the Super GT Series, Tsuchiya switched to Aston Martin DBR9 in 2009, contesting in just three races for Team Nova, sharing the #21 car with Akihiro Tsuzuki. They also participated in the Asian Le Mans Series round at Okayama, winning one of two races.
Three seasons in a Porsche
Tsuchiya found a new challenge in 2010, entering the GT300 class of the Super GT Series with Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. He was sharing the #25 Samurai Team Tsuchiya car with Akihiro Tsuzuki in four races in 2010 and then a full season in 2011. They scored one podium in 2011, finishing 9th in the GT300 classification.
In 2012, Tsuchiya participated in just two Super GT races, joining Team Art Taste at Okayama and Fuji. His co-drivers were Tim Bergmeister and Jorg Bergmeister. He attended one more race at Fuji with Greentec, but their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 didn't start.
Two seasons with Mercedes
For the 2013 Super GT Series season, Tsuchiya joined Okinawa-Imp Racing with Swift to drive the #52 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 alongside Hironori Takeuchi. Scoring two podiums, they were fifth in the final standings of the GT300 class. In 2013, Tsuchiya also joined AAI-Rstrada team in two rounds of the Asian Le Mans Series, driving a McLaren MP4-12C at Zhuhai and BMW Z4 GT3 at Sepang.
In 2014, Tsuchiya stayed in a Mercedes, driving the #22 car in three Super GT rounds for R'Qs Motorsports. He also rejoined Team AAI in the Asian Le Mans Series.
Finally a championship trophy in 2016
In the penultimate round of the 2014 Super GT season, at Buriram, Tsuchiya moved to Toyota 86 MC. For the 2015 season, he started to race in the #25 Toyota 86 MC for his own VivaC Team Tsuchiya, sharing a car with Takamitsu Matsui and Tatsuya Tanigawa. Scoring one victory, at Sportsland Sugo, Takeshi finished 10th in the points.
And then, in 2016, he finally captured his first championship title. He and Takamitsu Matsui were the race winners two times, in Thailand's round and in the season's finale at Twin Ring Motegi, dominantly winning the championship with an 18-point advantage.
Takeshi retired from racing immediately after that success, focusing on managing his team, which continues to run Toyota in the Super GT Series. Takeshi took over managing duties from his father and team founder Haruo Tsuchiya.