With an all-new, all-rookie driver lineup and one of the most capable cars in the GT300 field, Team Mach have serious ambitions of moving up from the back of the pack in the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series.
On Wednesday, Team Mach and GTNET Motor Sports formally announced the team’s complete structure for the 2017 season.
The #5 Mach Syaken Toyota 86 MC GTNET will once again feature the familiar colours of the famous Mach 5 of Mach GoGoGo/Speed Racer fame, but this year, they’ll also have the support of defending GT300 champions, Tsuchiya Engineering, as Takeshi Tsuchiya joins the team as an engineering advisor as part of a completely restructured organisation.
The changes for Team Mach start at the top, as former lead driver Tetsuji Tamanaka is appointed team director and representative. He’ll work alongside Naofumi Omoto, another former GT300 driver, and supervisor of GTNET Motor Sports, a top team in Super Taikyu.
In March, the team confirmed an all-new driver lineup of Natsu Sakaguchi and Kiyoto Fujinami, who successfully tested for the team at Okayama on March 18-19, and at Fuji Speedway on March 25. Veteran gentleman driver Junichiro Yamashita will join Sakaguchi and Fujinami as the third driver for the Fuji GT 500km Race on May 4, also having tested at Fuji.
And even though team director Tamanaka announced his retirement from driving in the off-season, AUTOSPORTweb reports that there’s a chance he might get to drive one more race in the 46th International Suzuka 1000km in August.
Takeshi Tsuchiya (left) and Yoshinobu Sada (right) come to the team from Tsuchiya Engineering, with reigning GT300 Drivers’ Champion Tsuchiya serving as the Engineering Advisor to Team Mach in addition to his role as Chief Engineer of the #25 VivaC 86 MC.
Sada was one of the mechanics who won the championship with VivaC Team Tsuchiya last season, and moves up to Chief Mechanic at Team Mach.
The team also has a new Chief Engineer, Tomohiro Yamamoto of Tracy Sports – who has won numerous Super Taikyu class titles, most recently in 2016 with their Lexus IS 350 in the ST-3 class.
Team Mach have not scored a top-ten finish in Super GT since the end of the 2010 season, a pointless drought of 48 races. And in the past two seasons, Team Mach have finished last in the GT300 Teams’ Championship. However, with a restructured team and the assistance of one of the top teams in their category, better days may soon be ahead for one of Super GT’s longest-tenured privateers.