Super Taikyu moves to Autopolis for fourth round

The 2017 Super Taikyu Series has seen three rounds of intriguing endurance racing so far, at Twin Ring Motegi, Sportsland Sugo, and most recently, at Suzuka Circuit for a four-hour endurance event.

Now the second half of the season begins this weekend at Autopolis circuit on Kyushu Island, for a weekend consisting of two three-hour races – and a weekend that could put a few teams closer to a championship in their respective classes.

Evaluating the very top of Group 1, in ST-X, the Nissan GT-R GT3s continue to lay waste to the competition through eleven consecutive victories in the class since 2015.

Yet amazingly enough, it’s still an incredibly close race for the ST-X Championship in 2017, with just 10 points separating the top four teams – led by the three Nissan teams, with the #3 Endless Advan GT-R (Yuke Taniguchi/Hideki Yamauchi/Yuya Motojima) at the top by virtue of three second-place finishes.

The #1 ThreeBond GT-R (Yuudai Uchida/Tomonobu Fujii/Kazuki Hiramine) will try and bounce back to the top of the standings after a compromised Suzuka 4h, while the Suzuka winners, the #99 Y’s Distraction GTNET GT-R (Tadao Uematsu/Kazuki Hoshino/Kiyoto Fujinami), will try and string together back-to-back victories and overhaul their GT-R stablemates.

With three poles, two podiums and a strong performance in their Blancpain GT Series Asia debut in June, the #8 ARN Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (Hiroaki Nagai/Kota Sasaki) will try and lead the charge to end the GT-Rs’ winning streak. All the top four cars carry some form of success ballast – up to 60 kilograms in the case of the Endless and Threebond GT-Rs – so this could also be an opportunity for the #89 HubAuto Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 (Morris Chen/Hiroki Yoshimoto/Yuya Sakamoto) or the #777 D’station Porsche 911 GT3-R (Satoshi Hoshino/Seiji Ara/Tsubasa Kondo) to finally score their first podiums.

Likewise, the two Civic TCR Racing Project Hondas have dominated the ST-TCR class with three wins to open the season – despite superior pace from the Audi RS3 LMSes, in particular the #45 Liqui Moly RS3 (Shozo Tagahara/Takuya Shirasaka/Naoto Takeda) which has come close to back-to-back wins, only to lose out at Sugo and Suzuka in the final minutes.

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The #98 Modulo Civic TCR (Takuya Kurosawa/Keishi Ishikawa/Hiroki Katoh) leads the standings by ten points after wins at Motegi and Suzuka, and the #97 Civic once again has a re-shuffled driver lineup: Former F1 driver Shinji Nakano, former MotoGP rider Shinichi Itoh, and the legendary “Drift King” himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya.

In ST-2, the #59 DAMD Motul Subaru WRX STI (Manabu Osawa/Hitoshi Gotoh) will try for three wins in a row in pursuit of wrapping up a fifth class title. However, in ST-3, it’s a close, close fight at the top with three Lexus luxury cars at the top – headlined by the #62 Denso Le Beausset RC350 (Koki Saga/Yuichi Nakayama/Kenta Yamashita), which leads the standings after their win at Suzuka – Yamashita also has the advantage of having won at Autopolis in Super GT earlier this year.

In Group 2, there’s three clear-cut favourites for the ST-4 championship: The leaders, the #86 TOM’s Spirit Toyota 86 (Takamitsu Matsui/Naoya Gamou/Sho Tsuboi), have to fend off not only the defending champion #13 Endless Advan 86 (Ryo Ogawa/Tsubasa Takahashi/Masaya Hanazato), but a strong #93 SKR Engineering Honda S2000 (Yuya Ohta/Masahiro Sasaki) that’s been inspired to great results by the driving of Sasaki this year.

ST-5 will see the field try and take down the back-to-back class race winners, the #88 Murakami Motors Mazda Roadster (Hiroyuki Murakami/Takeshi Wakitani/Masanobu Kato) – which is firmly in charge over its front-wheel drive subcompact rivals, and its fellow Roadster runners.

Super Taikyu’s sole all-female team, the #50 Love Drive Roadster, will have a new driver in Yumiko Sekizaki, partnering Marie Iwaoka and Enami Kitahira for her series debut in ST-5.

You’ll be able to catch all the action live and free on Super Taikyu TV this weekend! And per usual, Super GT World will provide updates throughout the weekend.

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