Runners-up in the GT300 championships in 2017, and winners of two of the last three Super GT races, K2 R&D LEON Racing announced their participation in the 2018 Autobacs Super GT Series.
The #65 LEON Cvstos Mercedes-AMG GT3, which won its class at both the Suzuka 1000km, and the Motegi GT Grand Final, will once again be driven by veteran owner-driver Haruki Kurosawa, and the outstanding Naoya Gamou, who return for their fourth full season together – as they look to improve one spot in the standings.
Last season, K2 R&D LEON Racing made the switch from Yokohama to Bridgestone tyres. Having already built off podium finishes in 2014 and 2015, then taking their first victory in 2016 with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, the LEON team made significant leaps and bounds into the realm of championship contenders in 2017.
Starting the season with a pole position, and a 2nd-place finish at the Okayama International Circuit, they then ended the season with an incredible strategic victory at Suzuka that saw them wrestle the lead away in the final ten minutes of the race. They also did the same at Twin Ring Motegi last November, taking the lead with two laps to go for their second win of the season.
Together, Kurosawa and Gamou, with 2 wins, 3 podium finishes, and 6 top-10 finishes, posted a 72-point season and finished just five points out of the championship lead behind Goodsmile Racing with Team UKYO drivers Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka.
The lead man is second-generation driver Haruki Kurosawa, who is a part-owner of the team founded in 2012. His father Motoharu was the inaugural Japanese Top Formula champion in 1973, and his older brother Takuya was a race winner in Super GT, Super Formula, and won the ST-TCR championship for Modulo Honda Racing in Super Taikyu last season.
With 108 races under his belt, the 40-year-old Kurosawa has finished top-3 in the GT300 Drivers’ Championship three times (2005, 2007, 2017). He has 6 career race victories, 19 podium finishes, and 65 top-10 finishes over the course of his 15-year career.
“This year we aim to win the first race of the season and to win the championship,” Kurosawa said in a press release. “I understand that it is not easy to become a champion. I will do my best this year, so that I can return the favour to those who supported me with our results.”
Kurosawa will once again be joined by 28-year-old Naoya Gamou, selected by Super GT World in 2017 as the Most Outstanding GT300 Driver through his exceptional speed and late-race heroics – including his brilliant three stints at the Suzuka 1000km to power the LEON AMG to victory in the GT300 class.
Gamou also enjoyed a successful season elsewhere in the racing world, dominating the ST-4 class in Super Taikyu with 5 wins from 6 races for TOM’s Spirit. He also won the SP3T category with Toyota Gazoo Racing at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Through 27 career races, Gamou has 3 career wins, 1 pole position, 6 podium finishes, and 17 top-10s.
“I am delighted to be able to participate in Super GT this year with LEON Racing. This year I will do my best to support the team and deliver a better result than last year!” Gamou exclaimed.
Though they are the de facto reigning champions of what will now be run under GT3/JAF-GT300 regulations as the Suzuka 10 Hours this August, K2 R&D LEON Racing did not announce an entry into the event for 2018.