2016 Review: Cars Tokai Dream28

With one of the quickest machines in GT300 and a resurgent Hiroki Katoh carrying the team, Cars Tokai Dream28 and their Mooncraft Lotus Evora MC endured a shockingly dismal 2016 campaign.

#2 Syntium Apple Lotus Evora MC

Drivers: Kazuho Takahashi / Hiroki Katoh / Tadasuke Makino (Suzuka 1000km)
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: Not Classified (0 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 28th Place (9 points)
Best Finish: 13th (Fuji 500km)
Best Qualifying: 3rd (Suzuka)

Hoping to atone from a 2015 campaign filled with unrealized potential, two pole positions yielding no better than a seventh-place at Suzuka, hopes were high for this team in 2016.

But it was a year in which Cars Tokai Dream28 failed to even register a point in the drivers’ standings, this despite some incredible pace in testing leading into the Summer Series, and setting a new lap record at Suzuka with the swift, nimble Lotus. Katoh has had to shoulder most of the driving duties for this team for several years, and it was the same this year, with 63-year-old Takahashi being several seconds per lap slower on a regular basis.

lotus-2
© Lotus Cars Japan

Suzuka should have been the site of a breakthrough victory, with the team signing All-Japan Formula 3 rookie Tadasuke Makino to drive the 1000km. He drove well above expectations for his debut, but a mid-race crash from Takahashi just laps into his first stint ended any hope of them taking a win in 2016.

Takahashi, a true gentleman driver, had a nightmarishly bad season as a driver in his own right: A lap one incident at Sugo put them 7 laps down, then after crashing out at Suzuka, he crashed in practice at Buriram to end their weekend, then got involved in two separate incidents over the two races at Motegi. A suspension failure at Fuji in August was just the rotten candy topping on this spoiled sundae. If this was his last season as a driver, it’s a terrible way to go out – as a liability to his own organization.

It’s bad enough that the skill gap between Katoh and Takahashi is too great at this stage of their careers, but this year, Katoh wasn’t quite as fast as he was in 2015 – his window is already starting to draw shut as a driver, which is even worse. Honda immediately swooped in to get Makino into GT500 after Suzuka, taking away arguably this team’s best driver from 2016, and a potential centerpiece to build the team around for years.

In short, what should have been a breakthrough season for the team, and for Takuya Yura’s latest racing masterpiece, the Evora MC, now ends in disappointing fashion – with Cars Tokai Dream28 facing more questions than answers in 2017.

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