Though it’ll be a total of nine weeks between rounds 3 and 4 of the 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, there’s still plenty of work for their teams and drivers to do before the next round at Sportsland SUGO on July 22-23 – and that includes two key test sessions for the teams.
Tuesday will be the first day of a two-day tyre test at Suzuka Circuit from June 6-7, which will see the first competitive Super GT test for former Formula 1 World Champion, Jenson Button. The following week, during the days of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will see the third official Super GT Test Session of the 2017 calendar year at Sportsland SUGO from June 17-18.
Only eight teams from GT500 and nine teams from GT300 will be at the Suzuka test, but the headlining act will be Button, who will join regular Team Mugen drivers Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima aboard the #16 Motul Mugen NSX-GT for the two days of testing.
Button will make his much-anticipated Super GT debut on August 27 at the 46th International Suzuka 1000km: The Final. He first tested a Honda NSX Concept-GT in December at the Honda Racing Thanks Day at Twin Ring Motegi.
Joining Team Mugen at the test will be the #23 Motul Autech NISMO GT-R (Tsugio Matsuda/Ronnie Quintarelli), the #38 ZENT Cerumo Lexus LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura), the #17 Keihin NSX-GT (Koudai Tsukakoshi/Takashi Kogure), the #12 Calsonic Impul GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Jann Mardenborough), the #19 WedsSport Advan LC500 (Yuhi Sekiguchi), the #24 Forum Engineering Advan GT-R (Daiki Sasaki/João Paulo de Oliveira), and the #64 Epson Modulo NSX-GT (Bertrand Baguette/Kosuke Matsuura) – they represent all four of Super GT’s tyre manufacturers.
The GT300 entry for the Suzuka test sees the #31 Toyota Prius apr GT and the #65 LEON Cvstos Mercedes-AMG GT3 representing Bridgestone, and the rest representing Yokohama Tyre: The #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku AMG, the #9 Gulf NAC Porsche 911 GT3-R, the #18 Upgarage Bandoh Toyota 86 MC, the #30 Toyota Prius apr GT, the #52 GreenBrave Toyota Mark X MC, the #60 Syntium LM Corsa Lexus RC F GT3, and the #88 ManePa Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
In that select GT300 field are a handful of drivers who will also race in the Super Taikyu Suzuka 4 Hours that same weekend: Koki Saga, Naoya Gamou, Kota Sasaki, Hiroaki Nagai, Shigekazu Wakisaka, Takayuki Hiranuma, Hiroki Yoshimoto, and Kazuki Hiramine.
The following weekend, there will be two days of testing at Sportsland SUGO on June 17-18, the first official Super GT Series test since the pre-season tests at Okayama International Circuit and Fuji Speedway in March.
All teams will be present barring four: The #5 Mach Syaken 86 GTNET, the #22 R’Qs Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the #48 Shokumou Nissan GT-R GT3, and the #111 EVA-RT Test-01 Rn-s AMG GT3.
There will also be some noticeably absent drivers – Kazuki Nakajima (Lexus Team au TOM’s), Yuji Kunimoto (Lexus Team WedsSport Bandoh), and Ryo Hirakawa (Lexus Team KeePer TOM’s) will all be racing at Le Mans. Björn Wirdheim (Gainer Mercedes-AMG) is also a scratch from the GT300 lineup, as is Yuji Ide (EIcars Bentley TTO).
André Couto will continue to fill in for the absent Sven Müller in the D’station Racing Porsche, and GT300 will have a few extra drivers in the form of Takeshi Tsuchiya (VivaC Team Tsuchiya), Takayuki Hiranuma (Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave), Yuya Motojima (Shop Channel JLOC), and Tsubasa Takahashi (ManePa JLOC).
There will be both a morning and afternoon test session on both days of the test, as the teams and drivers gear up for the series’ return with the first leg of the Summer Series – the Sugo GT 300km Race on July 22-23.