Not even the addition of a former GT500 champion driver could keep Team Mach from avoiding the GT300 cellar for the second consecutive season, a disheartening run of form in 2016 to say the least.
#5 Mach Syaken Toyota 86 MC
Drivers: Tetsuji Tamanaka (5 rounds) / Masami Kageyama (6 rounds) / Junichiro Yamashita (3 rounds)
GT300 Drivers’ Championship: Not classified (0 points)
GT300 Teams’ Championship: 29th Place (5 points)
Best Finish: 14th (Fuji 300km)
Best Qualifying: 14th (Sugo)
Entering year two of their run with the Mother Chassis Toyota 86 by Dome, Team Mach made a huge addition by signing Kageyama, who ended up driving six out of the seven races for Team Mach in 2016 in his twenty-third consecutive season in Super GT. A refreshed Mach V livery certainly was a hit.
But throughout the course of a difficult season, Team Mach just had a horrendous spate of bad fortune. They crashed in the morning practice at Okayama, resulting in a DNS. Team Mach added three more DNFs over the course of the season: Another terminal crash for Yamashita at Sugo, a transmission failure at Suzuka, and a third terminal crash at the first Motegi race for Tamanaka, which also took out the ARTA BMW in spectacular fashion.
Over the last two years, Team Mach have finished only four out of their last fourteen races, and the team haven’t scored a championship point since the 2010 season.
It’s not as if Team Mach were slow either – the 86 MC is one of GT300’s outright fastest cars, and with Kageyama at the wheel over his two less experienced co-drivers, it looked decently competitive – but without the preparation of a team like VivaC or Upgarage, it still couldn’t realize its full potential.
Tamanaka’s retirement from driving leaves Team Mach up in the air as far as 2017 is concerned, and Kageyama, who turns 50 next May, might also be at the end of his accomplished driving career. They’re in need of new drivers, a new garage to help prepare the car, and some sort of answers to help turn around a six-year run of futility that may not stop before they’re forced to close the doors – a bleak scenario, but one that’s becoming grimly realistic.