2016 Review: Autobacs Racing Team Aguri – GT300

If ARTA’s first season with BMW could be described in baseball terms, imagine them as the volatile power hitter who will either crush a ball 500 feet clear out of Koshien Stadium, or strike out on three pitches at the ankles.

#55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3

Drivers: Shinichi Takagi / Takashi Kobayashi
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: 5th Place (48 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 8th Place (59 points)
Wins: 1 (Fuji 300km)
Podiums: 3 (Fuji 500km, Fuji 300km, Buriram)
Fastest Laps: 1 (Fuji 300km)
Pole Positions: 2 (Fuji 500km, Fuji 300km)

The news was shocking enough – Autobacs Racing Team Aguri retiring their Honda CR-Z and replacing it with the BMW M6 GT3 was massive. And a stroke of genius on their part. Sure, a longtime Honda factory outfit going with BMW for their GT300 campaign seemed off, and some will see it as a one-off deal, but with Autobacs Seven Co. making huge investments in a number of BMW dealerships in Japan, it was actually a good fit.

And damn, did this car work for them at Fuji Speedway, where the turbocharged V8 of the M6 GT3 could really flex its muscle on the front straightaway. They finished 2nd in the 500km, then won the closest-ever GT300 race in history in the 300km later in the year. Add a third place in Buriram, another high-speed track, and all should have been lined up for a serious title push.

And it was, but for every win and pole and podium, there was an unfortunate and inverse misstep to undo the progress.

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© GT Association

A clutch issue at Okayama put them out of the points, then they crashed out at Sugo, drove an absolutely wretched Suzuka 1000km, and just when Motegi was looking like a potential opportunity to come back and take the championship, they were knocked out of the entire weekend in a heavy crash in the first handful of laps, eliminating them from the picture without ever really getting a proper chance.

Both Takagi and Kobayashi are still plenty fast, and even for the missteps they endured, they still enjoyed a better season than their new BMW rivals at Studie.

As excited as some are to see ARTA switch back to a Honda in GT300, even if the NSX GT3 is the real deal, they’ve got a very good thing going with the M6 – if not for their Honda ties, what on earth would compel them to switch away?

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