The gradual acquisition of top-line drivers helped power independents Dijon Racing to their best-ever season in Super GT, and this year could be the start of something pretty big in the future for old “Pink-zilla”.
#48 Dijon Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3
Drivers: Takayuki Aoki (5 rounds) / Hiroshi Takamori (4 rounds) / Masaki Tanaka (3 rounds) / Mitsunori Takaboshi (3 rounds)
GT300 Drivers’ Championship:
Aoki – 25th Place (2 points)
Takamori – 26th Place (1 point)
Takaboshi – 27th Place (1 point)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 20th Place (17 points)
Best Finish: 10th (Fuji 500km, Motegi I)
Best Qualifying: 13th (Sugo)
Going into 2016, Dijon Racing hadn’t scored a point since having Katsumasa Chiyo as a driver in 2013. They projected to do very little to improve from being a lower-end team this year, but things changed very quickly.
The team started the year at Okayama with the driver line-up of the eccentric Takamori and the relatively unknown Tanaka. They ended the year with a former GT300 champion in Aoki, and a NISMO Global Athlete, Takaboshi, who won two races in GT300 last season with NDDP Racing, two drivers with way more high-level experience.
It was by design, as “Dr.” Takamori stepped away from driving gradually over the course of the season to help their team score points in 2016 with faster drivers. This in anticipation of a revised pre-seeding system that could have left them out of some races in 2017 had their plan failed.
It worked out in their first race with Aoki, when they finished an astonishing tenth place in the Fuji 500km, and again at the first half of the Motegi double-header, this time with Takaboshi, who had recently debuted in GT500 at Suzuka, and had wrapped up a solid first year in Blancpain GT.
Whether the hot pink livery of the Dijon GT-R is to your taste or not is a whole ‘nother issue, but as far as the performance side of things, this was their finest year yet as a team in five seasons.
Takaboshi might return to Europe for another year in Blancpain GT with NISMO, but Aoki could return to the team, giving them an experienced hand to potentially partner another newcomer. On the whole, it could be safely said that things are starting to look very good for Dijon Racing’s future in the series.