Ever the perennial fan favourites, Goodsmile Racing picked up a brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT3, retained their championship-winning driver lineup, and all in all, enjoyed a consistent, if somewhat unfulfilled, season in 2016.
#4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3
Drivers: Nobuteru Taniguchi / Tatsuya Kataoka
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: 7th Place (47 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 5th Place (69 points)
Podiums: 2 (Okayama, Motegi II)
Best Finish: 2nd (Okayama)
Best Qualifying: 2nd (Fuji 300km, Motegi II)
The second year of the Mercedes era for GSR with Team Ukyo ushered in the debut of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, one of four to appear on the grid this season. Of all the Hatsune Miku liveries this team have ever had, this one might be their best-looking.
And after a tough 2015 season that saw only one podium finish, 2016 started off on the right foot, with a 2nd place finish at Okayama to open the season. And it ended well too, with them finishing 3rd in the final race of the year at Motegi. There was also the fun scrap that Taniguchi had with Orido at the 300km race at Fuji, the one that ended with “MAX” just edging out “NOB” at the line for fourth.
They just couldn’t quite crack the top step of the podium, and their best chance might have been at the Suzuka 1000km, where they had ample opportunity to win until a mid-race safety car threw them off their strategy, and effectively out of podium contention. They had only two downright poor races: At the Fuji 500km where they suffered a puncture, and at the first Motegi race, where they started 19th and finished a paltry 18th.
Apart from that, and the disappointment of a second straight season without any wins, things were still better for Goodsmile Racing with Team UKYO than they were in 2015, and both Taniguchi and Kataoka are still two of the best in their category, NOB in particular is still a mega-star that transcends Japanese motorsport.
And this is a team who transcends racing culture, just for the fact that, hey, it’s a car with freakin’ Hatsune Miku on it. People in otaku culture who otherwise don’t really know anything about racing know about this car and this team. And it’s a stellar team at that – one that stands as the best crowd-funded racing venture on a year-to-year basis, and they did so again in 2016.