Sunday’s Porsche Carrera Cup Japan race at Suzuka Circuit saw the crowning of a new champion, as 27 year-old Tsubasa Kondo won a rain-afflicted 30-minute race run in support of the Autobacs Super GT Series and its crown jewel race, the 45th International Suzuka 1000km.
A race that began and ended under a Safety Car was led from wire-to-wire by Kondo, who scored his seventh victory of the season from nine races for the Sky Racing team. Heavy rain and standing water kept the on-track action to a minimum, but in the end, the result allowed Kondo to be crowned champion with one race remaining in the 2016 season.
Kondo finished ahead of Porsche scholarship driver Yuichi Mikasa, a 23-year-old rookie stepping up from the FIA F4 Japanese Championship to the coveted Garmin Porsche team. Mikasa was second, followed by D’Station Racing driver Satoshi Hoshino, a Gentleman Class racer who placed third overall and clinched the Gentleman’s Cup title for 2016.
Kondo follows a lineage of prolific Porsche Carrera Cup Japan champions who have gone on to compete in Super GT, including Ryo Hirakawa, Shinichi Takagi, Akihiro Tsuzuki, Hideto Yasuoka, and one of this year’s top rookies, Yuya Motojima.
Other notable Super GT alumni who have won Porsche Carrera Cup titles around the world include Frederic Makowiecki, Alexandre Imperatori, Jörg Bergmeister, Keita Sawa, and Jean-Karl Vernay.
Kondo’s dominant championship-winning performance this year, and the potential of runner-up Mikasa, mark them as two drivers on the market for Super GT drives during the 2016-17 off-season.
The last race of the 2016 PCCJ season will be a return to Suzuka, this time in support of the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix.