For a three-race stretch in the summer of 2016, R&D Sport and their Subaru BRZ looked absolutely unbeatable, capped off with a signature win at Suzuka in the 1000 kilometer race.
#61 Subaru BRZ R&D Sport
Drivers: Takuto Iguchi / Hideki Yamauchi
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: 6th Place (47 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 6th Place (62 points)
Wins: 1 (Suzuka 1000km)
Podiums: 3 (Sugo, Fuji 300km, Suzuka)
Best Qualifying: 3rd (Sugo, Motegi I)
R&D Sport’s Subaru BRZ, now in its fifth season and the second with Dunlop tyres and the young driver combo of Iguchi and Yamauchi, started off the season with two lackluster outings at Okayama and the Fuji 500km.
But after the elongated spring break, came the Summer Series – Sugo, the 300k at Fuji, and the Suzuka 1000km – and thus began an improbable rise to the top of the GT300 championship table, that began with back-to-back podiums at Sugo and Fuji, two very different circuits.
Suzuka had always been kind to R&D Sport and Subaru since they first linked up, and this year, they mastered the changing conditions with a Dunlop tyre that was superb in wet conditions, and a perfectly timed stop for tyres and fuel before the safety car in the middle stages of the race helped propel the team to their fourth Suzuka 1000km GT300 class win in seven years – and the first Super GT victory for Yamauchi.
In that span of time, they went from pointless, to leading the championship by a healthy margin of points. Then, they finished the season with an unforced crash at Buriram, getting tangled with the Lotus at the first Motegi race, and then botched their strategy at the second and final Motegi race to ensure their summer flurry would be their only scores in 2016.
Iguchi and Yamauchi had incredible years as drivers, not only winning the Suzuka 1000km, but also taking class victories at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and in the Super Taikyu Endurance Series – in entirely different cars no less. The partnership with Dunlop made huge strides in 2016, and the team is well-equipped to contend in the future.
Subaru are one of the few GT300-only entities that have their own fan section at every Super GT event. Every one of those fans is still waiting for that elusive first championship with the BRZ. At least this year, they came pretty close, as close as they’ve ever been.