The Super Taikyu Endurance Series has just two more races left to decide its championships, with the penultimate round in the 2016 championship taking place this weekend at Okayama International Circuit, with two three-hour races this Sunday.
62 cars will be entered for this weekend, with the field split between the 35 cars of the ST-4 and ST-5 classes, and the 27 cars in the upper level ST-X, ST-1, ST-2, and ST-3 categories.
Nissan have been the dominant manufacturer in the top-level ST-X class all season long, with the #24 ThreeBond Kondo Racing GT-R (Yuudai Uchida/Tomonobu Fujii/Kazuki Hiramine) coming off a statement win in the Fuji Super-Tec 9 Hour race. They’ve won three of the four races so far, with the #3 Endless Sports GT-R (Yuke Taniguchi/Kyosuke Mineo/Hideki Yamauchi) taking the only other win of the season in Suzuka.
18.5 points separate the Kondo Racing and Endless Sports teams going into this event, and with a fourth win on the season, Kondo Racing could put the ST-X Championship out of reach before the final round in Autopolis.
D’Station Racing (Satoshi Hoshino/Seiji Ara/Tatsuya Hoshino) and their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry have already locked down ST-1, and will be the only entry in the category this weekend. And with two wins in the long-distance events at Motegi and Fuji, TOWAINTEC Racing (Manabu Osawa/Hitoshi Goto/Yasutaka Hinoi) and their Subaru WRX STi can clinch the ST-2 title with their third win of the season.
Denso Le Beausset Motorsports (Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama/Yuya Hiraki) are hoping to use the momentum from their win at Fuji to get back into the title race in ST-3. Their Lexus RC 350 trails the #38 Tracy Sports Lexus IS 350 (Makoto Hotta/Ryohei Sakaguchi) by 15.5 points, with Tracy Sports winning the first three rounds in succession. We’ll also see the return of “super team” SKT Team Motoyama and the #35 Nissan Fairlady Z (Masaki Kano/Satoshi Motoyama/Hironobu Yasuda).
ST-4 and ST-5 promise great drama, if the grandstand finishes in the Fuji Super-Tec in each category are any indication.
Winning the 9-hour Fuji Super-Tec by just 0.791 seconds, the #13 Endless Sports Toyota 86 (Nobuhiro Murata/Ryo Ogawa/Yuya Motojima) leads the ST-4 championship by 13 points.
But the second-place #86 Toyota Team TOM’s Spirit 86 (Takamitsu Matsui/Takuto Iguchi/Naoya Gamou) have a few aces up their sleeve. Matsui was brilliant in winning the most recent Buriram Super GT Race for VivaC Team Samurai, whilst Gamou already has a big win at Okayama – back in April at the Okayama GT 300km Race, his first in Super GT.
And the battle is closest of all in ST-5, with just half a point separating the #17 Team Nopro Mazda Demio (Tatsuya Tanigawa/Kaoru Ijiri/Tatsuya Nogami) from the #69 BRP★J’s Racing Honda Fit (Takahisa Ono/Junichi Umemoto/Toshihiro Kubota) in the standings.
ST-4 and ST-5 will run their race on Sunday October 23 from 8:35 to 11:35 AM JST, with the “top classes” race happening later that afternoon from 1:40 to 4:40 PM JST.