Three-time GT500 class champion Yuji Tachikawa is already at or near the top of the Super GT record books in many statistical categories. He’s second all-time in career GT500 victories (17), the all-time leader in pole positions (21), and is one of only five drivers to have won three or more championships.
The 41-year-old begins his record-setting nineteenth consecutive season with Lexus Team ZENT Cerumo, and in the first round of the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series at Okayama, he has a chance to cross two more important career milestones off his list and move further into elite territory.
Tachikawa will make his 150th career race entry this weekend at Okayama, becoming only the fifth driver to enter at least 150 Super GT races. And if he scores a podium finish in Sunday’s race in the #38 ZENT Cerumo Lexus LC500, Tachikawa will become only the third driver in history to score more than 1,000 career championship points in either GT500 or GT300 competition.
Only four drivers in history have entered and started more than 150 Super GT races: Morio Nitta (161 starts), Satoshi Motoyama (158 starts), Manabu Orido (154 starts), and Masami Kageyama (151 starts).
Tachikawa will enter his 150th race at the Okayama GT 300km Race this weekend. In those 150 entries, he has one DNS (did not start) at Fuji in 1997. Therefore, Tachikawa will need to wait until the second round of the season to make his 150th official start.
Fittingly, that will come at Fuji Speedway, where Tachikawa has earned the nickname “The Fuji-meister” by winning a record seven races at the fabled racetrack, the most recent of which came in the 2013 Fuji GT 300km Race.
But Tachikawa may not need to wait as long to join an even more elite club: That of the 1,000 career points’ scorers, of which there are currently only two – Nitta with 1,178 career points in GT300, and Motoyama with 1,057 points in GT500.
Tachikawa currently sits at 991 career points, needing just a third place finish or better at Okayama to get to the 1,000 point mark.
He can also get there with fourth place and a bonus point for pole position, which would be the 22nd of his career, putting his own record for GT500 pole positions further out of reach from the pack.
Tachikawa has won twice at Okayama before, in 2000, and most recently in 2012 – so he stands a very good chance to eclipse those two career milestones this weekend.