One of Super GT’s older independents, Tomei Sports lagged well behind their fellow Nissan stablemates in GT300 this season.
#360 RunUp Group & DOES Nissan GT-R GT3 NISMO
Drivers: Yusaku Shibata / Atsushi Tanaka (6 rounds) / Shota Kiyohara (3 rounds)
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: Not Classified (0 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 25th (10 points)
Best Finish: 12th (Sugo)
Best Qualifying: 12th (Sugo)
The “Bumblebee” GT-R came into 2016 expecting to battle it out with Dijon Racing as the best of the two independent Nissan teams in GT300.
Sugo was their best race, the second race of the year for former All-Japan F3 runner Kiyohara, partnered with an older rookie, longtime gymkhana ace and garage owner Shibata, a somewhat unexpected find for the team. Finishing where they started in twelfth, they tied with Arnage Racing for the best result for a non-scoring team in GT300.
That was the only highlight in a year where Tomei Sports simply didn’t have the talent to keep pace with Dijon Racing, or indeed most of the GT300 grid. Kiyohara was by far the team’s quickest driver, but didn’t have the money to run most of the season, certainly not compared to someone like Tanaka, who is Tomei Sports’ main benefactor through the RunUp Group.
They only had one retirement at the Fuji 300km, but the team were just nowhere in comparison to the rest of the GT-R GT3s. The breakup of rock band DOES, who sponsored the team over the last two seasons, doesn’t really help matters much either going into 2017 in terms of their sponsorship situation.
Tomei Sports’ current stint has now gone ten years without a single top-ten finish, and it’s hard to see how they reverse this trend if they cannot provide an opportunity to a young talent to carry the team.