Two-time GT300 champion team Goodsmile Racing with Team UKYO will venture out onto the international sports car racing circuit for the first time this July, as they will take part in the 69th running of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on July 29-30, 2017.
The Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be piloted in this historic race by regular drivers Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka, who will be joined at Spa-Francorchamps by Toyota Gazoo Racing factory driver Kamui Kobayashi to form an all-Japan all-star lineup.
The announcement was originally made on April 1st, which led to a fair deal of skepticism – given that this is what Goodsmile Company did with their website for the occasion:
Though “Cat Smile Racing” clearly won April Fools’ day for 2017 (just look at these cute kittens for crying out loud!!!) it was hard to buy into the original announcement of the team running at the “24 Hours of Spa-Nyan-corchamps”.
But on Sunday morning JST, Goodsmile Racing confirmed their intentions and will indeed be at the fabled Belgian circuit for the biggest GT3 sports car race on the planet this July – in celebration of the team’s tenth anniversary in 2017.
Leading the team is two-time GT300 champion Taniguchi, who led GSR to their two GT300 titles in 2011 and again in 2014 with their old BMW Z4 GT3.
Taniguchi is third all-time in career GT300 victories (16), and in addition to his successes in Super GT, is also a seven-time Super Taikyu class champion, a winner of the defunct Tokachi 24 Hour race, and a two-time winner of the Sepang 12 Hours in Malaysia – as well as the inaugural D1 Grand Prix champion (2001) and a presenter of the Best Motoring and Hot Version video car magazines.
Kataoka is also a two-time GT300 champion, having won in 2014 with GSR, and previously in 2009 with Racing Project Bandoh in the WedsSport Lexus IS350.
Kataoka has eight career victories in GT300, has also won in GT500 with Toyota Team TOM’s in 2005, and was a two-time Super Taikyu class champion. This off-season, Kataoka started up his own Super Taikyu team, T’s Concept, and was named the team director of Sunoco Team LeMans in the Japanese Super Formula Championship.
The third driver is Kobayashi, the ex-Formula 1 driver and current star of the Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 team in the World Endurance Championship.
Last year, Kobayashi finished 2nd in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota, then went on to win the 6 Hours of Fuji (formerly the Fuji 1000km) later that year.
Kobayashi has a strong relationship with Goodsmile Racing and Goodsmile Company – this will be his first GT3 racing effort, and it will come not in a Toyota or a Lexus, but in a Mercedes-AMG silver arrow.
The Hatsune Miku AMG will carry a special colour scheme for the 24 Hours of Spa, a new number, and it will also carry Pirelli tyres that are standard in all rounds of the Blancpain GT Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.