It’s Japan’s second-biggest sports car racing championship behind the Autobacs Super GT Series, and features many current and former Super GT superstars – it’s the Super Taikyu Endurance Series, and what a year they enjoyed in 2016.
As GT3 race cars competed on the same circuit as lightly-tuned production vehicles, Japan’s VLN-inspired series was one to keep an eye on in its twenty-sixth season of racing.
And thanks to the Super Taikyu YouTube channel, you can now catch up and watch the 2016 Super Taikyu series through their hour-long highlights show, featured on the BS12 (TwellV) Network’s “RIDE & DRIVE” programming block.
Entering the 2016 season, Endless Sports were the defending champions of the top-ranked ST-X category for FIA GT3 specification cars, and switched their BMW Z4 GT3 out for a new Nissan GT-R.
Kondo Racing were also formidable challengers, with the direct support of NISMO and staffed by students and graduates of the Nissan Technical College. Their #24 Nissan GT-R was the fastest in pre-season testing at Motegi.
The series also recieved a direct injection of star power as recently-retired Super GT champion Juichi Wakisaka kept his racing career going in the ultra-competitive ST-4 class, driving for defending champions Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave and their Toyota 86.
Ride & Drive’s coverage of Super Taikyu featured Nobuteru Taniguchi as an analyst – best known for his Super GT championships with Goodsmile Racing, NOB is also the only driver in history to win seven Super Taikyu championships, including five in a row from 2009 to 2013.
Round 1: Twin Ring Motegi – April 3
The season kicked off at Twin Ring Motegi with a five-hour race featuring all six Super Taikyu classes on track at once. A strong field of 62 cars were present for this first round of the season.
Round 2: Sportsland SUGO – May 14 & 15
Sugo hosted the first of three rounds featuring two three-hour races, Saturday’s race for Group 2 cars in the ST-4 and ST-5 classes, and Sunday’s race for the Group 1 machines from ST-X, ST-1, ST-2, and ST-3 classes. The Group 1 race was decided by 3.8 seconds, the closest margin all season in the top division.
Round 3: Suzuka Circuit – June 12
Held the week before Le Mans, this was a four-hour feature race at Suzuka with all classes on track, as the season reached the mid-way point before a break of almost three months.
Round 4: Fuji Speedway – September 4
The Fuji Super-Tec is Super Taikyu’s current crown jewel event, and its longest race of the season at nine hours long. Satoshi Motoyama was just one of several marquee drivers who turned up for this special event, which featured a photo finish in the ST-4 class.
Round 5: Okayama International Circuit – October 23
Another dual 3 hour race weekend saw four championships clinched throughout the four categories in Group 1, while in the Group 2 race, a clash between leaders resulted in a stunning upset victory.
Round 6: Autopolis – November 20
The first race at Autopolis since re-opening the previous month, the remaining two championships were crowned in ST-4 and ST-5, to close out a strong season filled with great cars and great racing.