In the past two decades, the Kyoto-based Gainer team have competed in the GT300 class of Super GT with manufacturers such as Ferrari, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
But in 2018, after three years splitting their garage between Mercedes and Nissan, Gainer and Nissan will commit to a full-scale partnership, with Gainer fielding two brand-new, 2018-spec Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s in the Autobacs Super GT Series.
The team have also strengthened their driver lineup with the addition of nine-year GT500 veteran Hironobu Yasuda from Team Impul, and two-time GT300 champion Kazuki Hoshino from NDDP Racing, to partner returning drivers Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Hiroki Yoshida.
First active in GT300 from 2000, Gainer bring with them years of experience in the category, and successes including back-to-back GT300 Teams’ Championships in 2014 and 2015, and a long-awaited Drivers’ Championship for André Couto in 2015 driving the previous-generation Nissan GT-R GT3 with co-drivers Katsumasa Chiyo and Ryuichiro Tomita.
Gainer will now fill the role of Nissan and NISMO’s works-affiliated challengers in GT300, with the concurrent announcement that NDDP Racing with B-Max will step up to the GT500 category in 2018 to replace MOLA.
It’s a fitting transition for the team led by Tetsuya Tanaka, himself a longtime Nissan factory racing driver, and who was also a long-time driver for Gainer before taking on the role of team director in 2015.
Gainer will continue to try innovative split strategies with their tyre suppliers, carrying Dunlop tyres on their #11 Gainer Tanax GT-R, and Yokohama tyres on their #10 Gainer Tanax triple a GT-R.
Hironobu Yasuda, after nine seasons competing in GT500 – including the last four with Calsonic Team Impul – will return to the category in which he won the championship in 2008, on a final-lap pass in the rain at Fuji Speedway.
Over his previous nine GT500 campaigns, with Hasemi Motorsport (2009), Kondo Racing (2010-13), and Team Impul (2014-17), Yasuda has won four races, with 13 total podium finishes, and 47 top-10 finishes. His best GT500 drivers’ championship result was 2nd in 2015, driving alongside João Paulo de Oliveira in the Calsonic GT-R.
Yasuda slumped to 15th in the standings last year, with he and class newcomer Jann Mardenborough only scoring 4 top-10 finishes and a best finish of 5th.
The 34-year-old will come in to partner 14th-year veteran Hiranaka, who is now entering his 10th year with Gainer – but his first driving a Nissan GT-R after five years in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Hiranaka, 36, has made 107 consecutive starts since his 2005 debut in Super GT. In GT300, Hiranaka has 6 career victories, 24 career podium finishes, and 57 top-10 finishes. He’s finished 2nd in the GT300 Drivers’ Championship three times: In 2011, 2013, and 2014, all with Gainer. In 2017, he was 6th, with a win at Sportsland SUGO.
The other high-profile addition to the team is second-generation driver and GT300 front-runner, Kazuki Hoshino, the son of the legendary Kazuyoshi Hoshino.
Hoshino, 40, brings with him a wealth of GT300 experience over the past decade, including 2 championships (2008, 2010), 11 career victories including three at the Suzuka 1000km, 21 podium finishes and 82 top-10 finishes. Like Yasuda, Hoshino is also trying to bounce back from a tough 2017 season, where he and Mitsunori Takaboshi finished 17th in the championship, without a single top-5 finish.
He’ll drive the #10 Gainer Tanax triple a GT-R, which is now fitted with Yokohama tyres after switching from Dunlop. Hoshino’s co-driver is 34-year-old journeyman Hiroki Yoshida, who was with this team last year, recording two top-6 finishes last year and a best finish of 5th at the Suzuka 1000km – his best career finish.
Yosuke Fukuda will continue to serve as chief engineer in the #11 crew, while Naoto Takahata will do the same for the #10 crew.