Gainer, Inc. have announced their two-car, dual-manufacturer entry for the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series GT300 category, with Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Björn Wirdheim driving the #11 Gainer Tanax Mercedes-AMG GT3, and Ryuichiro Tomita returning to drive the #10 Gainer Tanax Nissan GT-R GT3, alongside newly hired co-driver Hiroki Yoshida.
Gainer and their two-car team will once again be equipped with Dunlop tyres for the 2017 season, a partnership that began in 2010, and will continue for its eighth season in succession. Longtime former Super GT driver, Tetsuya Tanaka, will serve as the team director for both cars.
The veteran duo of Hiranaka, 35, and Wirdheim, 36, returns for their fifth successive season driving the #11 Mercedes-Benz/AMG for Gainer.
Together, Hiranaka and Wirdheim have won three races, scored twelve podiums, and two pole positions over the last four seasons, and finished runner-up in the GT300 championship in 2013 and 2014. Last year, they finished ninth in the GT300 Drivers’ Championship, with three top-five finishes and a pole position at the final race at Twin Ring Motegi.
Hiranaka, entering his thirteenth season, recently surpassed the 100 career races milestone, and has five career GT300 victories, twenty podium finishes, and 485 total points in his “sanbyaku” career since 2009.
Wirdheim, best known for winning the International Formula 3000 Champion in 2003, enters his eleventh season in Super GT, and his fifth in GT300. The most successful and tenured Swedish driver in Super GT history, Wirdheim has 82 career entries under his belt, with 3 wins, 12 podiums, and 242 points since moving to GT300 in 2013.
Yosuke Fukuda will return as the chief engineer of the #11 Mercedes-AMG, in his fifth year with Gainer, and his second working with Hiranaka and Wirdheim. He was chief engineer for the #10 Gainer GT-R that won the 2015 GT300 championship.
In the #10 Nissan GT-R, the team retains the services of Ryuichiro Tomita, 28, while Hiroki Yoshida has been appointed to replace 2015 GT300 Drivers’ Champion, Andre Couto.
Tomita, 28, enters his third season with Gainer, having spent 2015 as the third driver behind Couto and Katsumasa Chiyo in the #10 GT-R, before stepping up to full-time driving last year. He is a two-time champion of the one-make Nissan GT-R Prestige Cup, and a former GT300 class winner of the Suzuka 1000km in 2015.
Last year, Tomita and former co-driver Couto drove to eighth in the GT300 Drivers’ Championship, scoring their lone podium finish at the Suzuka 1000km, finishing third.
Yoshida, 33, has entered 31 races over five seasons in his Super GT career, previously driving for ThunderAsia Racing (2011-12), Team a Speed (2012), Tomei Sports (2014-15), and most recently Gulf Racing with Pacific (2016), for whom he scored his first official top-ten finish at Twin Ring Motegi with an eighth place at the eighth and final round of the season. He was part of the a Speed team that won the 2012 Suzuka 1000km, but did not drive in the feature race.
Yoshida has kept a busy schedule in the winter months, driving for HubAuto Racing Ferrari in the Sepang 12 Hours this December and winning the GT3 Pro-Am category, and also trying his hand in prototypes in the Asian Le Mans Series, driving for Jackie Chan DC Racing in the LMP3 class.
Naoto Takahata will be the chief engineer of the #10 Nissan, returning for his second year in the role.