It’s mid-engined, one-make racing featuring some of the top stars in the Autobacs Super GT Series, and it starts this weekend at Fuji Speedway – the 2017 Inter Proto Series, part of the weekend festivities at the Fuji Champion Race Series.
The IPS is the brainchild of Japanese racing legend Masanori Sekiya, and in its fourth season, the IPS grid in 2017 is another star-studded affair in the Professional class.
With short races, two classes of drivers, and all teams running the same Kuruma prototype sports car, with its carbon fibre monocoque and 4-litre V6 engine producing over 340 horsepower, the competition in the IPS promises to be close and competitive once again. All eight rounds of the Inter Proto Series will run at Fuji Speedway.
Yuichi Nakayama (JMS LM Corsa) is the defending Professional Class champion, and in 2017, he’ll join the following Super GT stars: Tsugio Matsuda, Ronnie Quintarelli (NISMO), Kohei Hirate (Lexus Team SARD), Hironobu Yasuda (Team Impul), Yuhi Sekiguchi (Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh), Nick Cassidy (Lexus Team KeePer TOM’s), Hiroaki Ishiura (Lexus Team ZENT Cerumo), Kenta Yamashita (VivaC Team Tsuchiya), and Morio Nitta (INGING & Arnage Racing).
The Expert and Gentleman class entry lists haven’t been revealed just yet, but last year, they attracted some handy drivers – including defending Super Taikyu ST-X champion Yuudai Uchida, top female driving prospect Miki Koyama, and All-Japan F3 gentleman driver DRAGON.
The Professionals and Semi-Pros will share cars throughout the weekend, with each class getting two races during the weekend – ranging from just 6 to 15 laps long.
Of course, the Fuji Champion Race Series will be filled with a number of other grassroots racing events, and the headlining act will be Rounds 6 and 7 of the 2017 All-Japan Formula Three Championship.
Coming off another dominant weekend at Suzuka Circuit, points leader Mitsunori Takaboshi (B-Max Racing) looks to put the championship further out of reach, but Spanish rookie Álex Palou (ThreeBond with Drago Corse) wants to strike back with a vengeance.
Watch out as well for Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata of Kuo Team TOM’s: Tsuboi, last year’s IPS runner-up, is just coming off his maiden GT300 win at the Fuji 500km, and Miyata, who did not race at Suzuka in All-Japan F3, swept the FIA F4 Japanese Championship races at the Fuji 500km.
There will also be a number of other one-make championships on hand, including the Honda N-ONE Owner’s Cup, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, the Kyojo Cup, Super FJ, and even an event for 80’s and 90’s Japanese street cars – and it’s all condensed into one weekend at Fuji Speedway!