Ryo Hirakawa has done a stellar job in his first season racing outside of Japan, and his European Le Mans Series journey with the Thiriet by TDS Racing team continues this weekend at the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg, Austria.
The 22-year-old driver for Lexus Team KeePer TOM’s in GT500 is coming off a solid performance in his first trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he, and co-drivers Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche, led the LMP2 category for a healthy portion of the race until Thiriet had a race-ending accident with less than eight hours remaining.
The trio of Hirakawa, Thiriet, and Beche were winners at the rain-blitzed 4 Hours of Imola in May, and now set their sights on the Red Bull Ring, where the Thiriet by TDS Racing team finished second in LMP2 last year.
Team principal Xavier Combet has been particularly impressed with Hirakawa’s cool demeanor for his age, and Hirakawa has also impressed many observers with his consistently fast pace at the wheel of the number 46 Oreca 05-Nissan – just as he has in GT500 over the last year.
The guidance of two-time Le Mans winner Alexander Wurz that he had in the lead-up to the 24 Hours in June, will only further Hirakawa’s rapid progress as a driver.
After the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring, Hirakawa is highly unlikely to return to the ELMS for the next round at Circuit Paul Ricard in France – the 4 Hours of Le Castellet clashes directly with Super GT’s biggest event, the 45th International Suzuka 1000km.
Hirakawa and his KeePer TOM’s RC-F co-driver James Rossiter are currently second in the GT500 Drivers’ Championship.