On Thursday, Arnage Racing announced their plans for the upcoming 2018 Autobacs Super GT Series. The Yokkaichi-based independent squad, who’ve run cars from Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari in recent years, will switch back to the company of the Silver Arrows as they announced the purchase of a new Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Along with the switch back to a familiar badge, Arnage Racing also announced they’ll reunite a familiar lineup: Masaki Kano, and Hideto Yasuoka, who last drove a full season together in 2015, will return once again as the full-time drivers of their #50 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
This will be Arnage Racing’s sixth year as a Super GT entrant, and Muneharu Ito’s plucky squad have had quite the journey since their 2013 debut.
They bought up the assets of the dominant Team a speed squad after the 2012 season, including their mega-fast Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which served them well enough over their first two seasons – capturing the team’s maiden podium at Autopolis in 2013, and another near-brush with victory in a wet-dry race at Sugo in 2014.
From 2015, Arnage Racing switched to Mercedes-Benz with the SLS AMG GT3, unable to replicate their same fortunes with Aston Martin. 11th was their best finish in 2015, and 12th was their best the year after in 2016. By the end of 2016, both Kano and Yasuoka departed the team.
For 2017, Arnage Racing partnered with INGING Motorsport to form INGING & Arnage Racing, and once again switched cars to the Ferrari 488 GT3. Akihiro Tsuzuki and Morio Nitta’s season started in disaster after a heavy crash at Okayama, but the team eventually recovered, and took a miraculous 2nd place finish at Sugo last July.
After the season, Arnage Racing parted ways with INGING, and their Ferrari 488, and will now use their fourth different car in seven seasons: The Mercedes-AMG GT3, which in the hands of Goodsmile Racing with Team UKYO, K2 R&D LEON Racing, and Gainer, won four races and finished 1st, 2nd, and 5th in the GT300 championships. It uses the same 6.3 litre V8 engine as its predecessor, the SLS AMG.
And after a year out of Super GT, 42-year-old Kano from Osaka, and 34-year-old Yasuoka of Chiba, are back with the team they got their first Super GT breaks with five years ago.
Kano first emerged in touring cars, winning the Asia Touring Car Series title for BMW in 2007, then spending the next six seasons as a dependable local ringer in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, competing exclusively in the Japanese rounds. In 2012, Kano made his debut in Super GT with Team JLOC, before moving on to Arnage Racing at the start of 2013.
After scaling back to a part-time role with Arnage in 2016, in 2017 Kano moved to Super Taikyu to drive for SKT Team Motoyama in the ST-3 class, scoring a best finish of 3rd at Sugo and finishing 7th in the ST-3 Championship.
Yasuoka is the only driver in history to record a perfect season in the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan, winning all 11 races from pole position in his history-making 2011 season. His Super GT debut was also in 2012, with Hitotsuyama Racing, then he too moved on to drive for Arnage Racing.
After spending four seasons with Arnage Racing, the always forward-thinking Yasuoka was left without a full-time drive at all in 2017. He was given a chance to return to Super GT in the 2017 Fuji GT 500km Race, when he filled in for a suspended Hisashi Wada at R’Qs Motor Sports. Despite limited running in the car, he was more than serviceably quick in his substitute role.
While mentoring Taiwanese gentleman driver Brian Lee throughout the year, Yasuoka also drove in Blancpain GT Asia later in the year, driving for HubAuto Racing at Shanghai International Circuit with Lee as his co-driver at the meeting.
Arnage Racing will reveal a sponsor and a livery in the weeks to come.