Super GT Silly Season Update: The 2019 GT300 Landscape

We are just days away from knowing the full GT500 grid in the Autobacs Super GT Series, which will include Nissan’s announcements on 9 February from Yokohama, and Toyota Motor Corporation’s announcements, which we are told will be on 7 January (thanks to @RJ_TGR on Twitter for the tip).

Now, it’s time to take a look at what the GT300 grid might look like come 2019. The staff at auto sport Web posted an update today, 5 February, which should appear in print form in the next issue of auto sport Magazine. There have already been some big announcements that will shake up the GT300 grid this season, and it’s safe to say that there may be some more big announcements in the days to come.

DISCLAIMER: All of the information in this article is speculative, and has not been confirmed by any of the manufacturers, drivers, or teams involved.

We’ve known since November that Team Taisan have ended their involvement in Super GT. On 24 January, EIcars Bentley announced the end of their programme, and on 31 January, after weeks of deliberation, CarGuy Racing decided to end their Super GT participation as well.

To offset the three departures from the GT300 grid are three new entries: The Kondo Racing team coming from Super Taikyu, Phoenix Racing Asia from Hong Kong, and the blockbuster return of Team Goh and McLaren as McLaren Customer Racing Japan.

This is the grid at a glance, in numerical order.

#2 – Cars Tokai Dream 28
Lotus Evora MC
Kazuho Takahashi / Hiroki Katoh

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. No changes from 2018, apart from a revised livery for the Mooncraft-built Lotus. Takahashi will be 66 by the start of the season, Katoh will be 51, making this the oldest lineup on the grid.

#4 – Goodsmile Racing & Team UKYO
Mercedes-AMG GT3
Nobuteru Taniguchi / Tatsuya Kataoka

Confirmed 22 December, livery revealed 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. Number reverts from the unofficial GT300 Champion’s 0 to the traditional GSR number 4.

#5 – Team Mach
Toyota 86 MC
Natsu Sakaguchi / Yuya Hiraki

Team Mach have enjoyed intermittent success in Super GT since introducing Natsu Sakaguchi as lead driver. Yuya Hiraki is expected to stay alongside Sakaguchi – then again, Kiyoto Fujinami was expected to stay this time a year ago.

#7 – D’station Racing
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
⭕ Tomonobu Fujii / ❓ Darren Turner / ❓ João Paulo de Oliveira / ❓ Other Aston Martin Factory Driver

Along with McLaren Customer Racing Japan, this is the other big announcement that’s been rumoured for weeks – Aston Martin’s return to Super GT, with the new turbo-V8 Vantage GT3 fielded by D’station Racing (KTR).

Tomonobu Fujii is expected to stay, but he’ll have a new co-driver, and the two leading candidates seem to be longtime Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner, and 13-year GT500 veteran J.P. Oliveira, who left Nissan after 2018. Aston Martin have a few factory drivers that could also be in consideration.

#9 – Pacific Mirai Akari Racing Project
Porsche 911 GT3-R (991)
Naoki Yokomizo / Kyosuke Mineo

Formerly Gulf Racing with Pacific. Confirmed partnership with Mirai Akari Project on 21 December. auto sport foresees a reunion of Yokomizo and Mineo, the drivers who won Porsche’s last GT300 title with Team Taisan in 2012. Yokomizo drove for CarGuy last year, while Mineo only raced the Fuji 500 Miles last year.

#10 – Gainer
Kazuki Hoshino / Keishi Ishikawa

Expected to be confirmed 9 February during Nissan’s motorsport activities announcement in Yokohama. Hiroki Yoshida announced his departure from the team on 16 December. Yoshida’s replacement is now expected to be Keishi Ishikawa, a former Honda young driver who raced with Pacific last season. Two-time GT300 champion Hoshino stays from 2018.

#11 – Gainer
⭕ Katsuyuki Hiranaka /
Hironobu Yasuda

Expected to be confirmed 9 February during Nissan’s motorsport activities announcement in Yokohama. No changes anticipated, with Hiranaka and Yasuda returning.

✅ #18 – Team UPGarage
✅ Honda NSX GT3 EVO
✅ Takashi Kobayashi / ✅ Kosuke Matsuura
✅ Yokohama

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. Team UPGarage replaces the Toyota 86 MC after four seasons for the new Honda NSX GT3 EVO. GT500 veteran Matsuura joins the returning Kobayashi.

#21 – Audi Team Hitotsuyama
Richard Lyons / Ryuichiro Tomita

Hitotsuyama Racing confirmed delivery of a new Evo-spec Audi R8 LMS on 1 February. The driver lineup of Lyons and Tomita is not expected to change, but the team are considering a switch to Yokohama tyres after three seasons with Dunlop.

#22 – R’Qs Motor Sports
Mercedes-AMG GT3
❓ Hisashi Wada / ❓ Masaki Jyonai

Arnage Racing will provide maintenance and technical support to their fellow Mercedes independents at R’Qs. It’s not confirmed yet, but don’t expect a change in driver lineups.

#25 – Tsuchiya Engineering
Toyota 86 MC
⭕ Takamitsu Matsui / ⭕ Kimiya Sato

After running Toyota young drivers Kenta Yamashita and Sho Tsuboi the last two seasons, former JLOC driver Kimiya Sato is expected to partner Takamitsu Matsui this season. Sato worked with team director Takeshi Tsuchiya this past season in the Pirelli Super Taikyu Series.

#30 – apr Racing
Toyota Prius PHV GR Sport
Hiroaki Nagai / Manabu Orido

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. apr Racing introduce their new Toyota Prius PHV GT cars this season. No changes from the end of the 2018 season, when Manabu Orido replaced Kota Sasaki in the full-time driver lineup.

#31 – apr Racing
Toyota Prius PHV GR Sport
Koki Saga / Yuhki Nakayama

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. apr Racing introduce their new Toyota Prius PHV GT cars this season. Veteran apr driver Koki Saga is now joined by 2013 GT300 champion Yuhki Nakayama, formerly of Team UPGarage.

✅ #34 – Modulo Drago Corse
✅ Honda NSX GT3 EVO
✅ Ryo Michigami / ✅ Hiroki Otsu
✅ Yokohama

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. No changes in team structure, but Modulo Drago Corse now have the Evo-spec Honda NSX GT3.

#35 – arto Panther Team Thailand
Lexus RC F GT3
Nattavude Charoensukhawatana / Nattapong Horthongkum

Expected to be confirmed with the rest of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s motorsports activities for 2019 in the next few days. No changes expected from 2018.

#47 – Kondo Racing
Kazuki Hiramine / ❓ Driver TBA

Team’s 2019 activities including Super GT confirmed 1 October. The car and tyre supplier is confirmed, remaining details expected to be confirmed 9 February at Nissan’s motorsports activity announcement. The number is expected to be 47. Kazuki Hiramine, who drove for this team in Super Taikyu, is expected to be one of the two drivers.

#48 – Dijon Racing

Masaki Tanaka / Taiyou Iida

Expected to be confirmed 9 February during Nissan’s motorsport activities announcement in Yokohama. Masaki Tanaka and Taiyou Iida were registered as the primary drivers through 2018, and are expected to return in 2019 – but last year saw Richard Bradley get a large share of starts with the team after the pre-season tests.

#50 – Arnage Racing
Mercedes-AMG GT3
Masaki Kano / Hideto Yasuoka

Team director Muneharu Ito confirmed their 2019 entry on 15 January. The car and entry remains the same, and it’s likely that the drivers from 2018, Masaki Kano and Hideto Yasuoka, will be retained as well.

#52 – Saitama Toyopet GreenBrave
Toyota Mark X MC
⭕ Shigekazu Wakisaka / ❓ Hiroki Yoshida
❓ Bridgestone

Two big potential changes: The first, the addition of former Gainer driver Hiroki Yoshida, who enjoyed his best-ever Super GT campaign in 2018. The second, a switch to Bridgestone Potenza tyres, typically used only by big-budget GT300 teams. Despite rumours of a switch to the Lexus RC F GT3, it looks like GreenBrave will stick with their striking Mark X MC.

✅ #55 – Autobacs Racing Team Aguri
✅ Honda NSX GT3 EVO
✅ Shinichi Takagi / ✅ Nirei Fukuzumi
✅ Bridgestone

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. ARTA switches to the Honda NSX GT3 EVO after three seasons with the BMW M6. Shinichi Takagi stays, now partnered by 21-year-old Honda young driver Nirei Fukuzumi, who will also race for Team Mugen in Super Formula this season.

#60 – LM Corsa
✅ Lexus RC F GT3
✅ Hiroki Yoshimoto / ✅ Ritomo Miyata
✅ Dunlop

Expected to be confirmed with the rest of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s motorsports activities in the coming days, but the team was seen in testing at Okayama and at Fuji with the car, drivers, and crucially, the new tyre partners at Dunlop listed above.

#61 – R&D Sport
Subaru BRZ R&D Sport
Takuto Iguchi / Hideki Yamauchi

Expected to be confirmed before STI Motorsports Day at Fuji Speedway on 10 March. No changes are anticipated, with Takuto Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi staying on for a fifth season together with Subaru and R&D Sport.

✅ #65 – K2 R&D LEON Racing
✅ Mercedes-AMG GT3
✅ Haruki Kurosawa / ✅ Naoya Gamou
✅ Bridgestone

Confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. Textile maker Pyramid becomes the new associate sponsor in place of watchmaker Cvstos. Haruki Kurosawa will continue to race alongside Naoya Gamou. The team deferred the unofficial GT300 Champions’ number 0.

#87 – Team JLOC
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
❓ Tsubasa Takahashi / ❓ Driver TBA

Team JLOC will be impacted by the expected departures of Kazuki Hiramine and Kimiya Sato. One of these vacancies may be filled by Tsubasa Takahashi, JLOC’s reserve driver from 2017 and 2018. The second seat is entirely up in the air as of now.

#88 – Team JLOC
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
⭕ Lamborghini Squadra Corse Driver / ❓ Yuya Motojima / ❓ Driver TBA

Yuya Motojima is expected to move up from the 87 to the 88 car for JLOC, but that isn’t guaranteed. It’s expected that Lamborghini Squadra Corse will provide a factory driver to this car in 2018 – be it Marco Mapelli, Andrea Caldarelli, or a new face, like Dennis Lind.

#96 – K-Tunes Racing LM Corsa
✅ Lexus RC F GT3
✅ Morio Nitta /
Sena Sakaguchi
✅ Bridgestone

Team, car, tyre supplier, and driver Morio Nitta were all confirmed on 11 January at Tokyo Auto Salon. For weeks, the rumoured 2nd driver was 19-year-old Toyota young driver Kazuto Kotaka.

But auto sport is now reporting that it will be another teenager, Sena Sakaguchi, a bombshell switch for the driver who has been supported by Honda since he graduated from karting. That announcement will be confirmed with the rest of Toyota’s racing activities in the coming days.

#360 – Tomei Sports

Atsushi Tanaka / Takayuki Aoki / Yusaku Shibata

Expected to be confirmed 9 February during Nissan’s motorsport activities announcement in Yokohama. Tomei Sports will have a new Nissan GT-R after auctioning off their MY15 car. Atsushi Tanaka, Takayuki Aoki, and Yusaku Shibata all split driving time in this car over the last two seasons and are expected to do so again in 2019.

#TBA – McLaren Customer Racing Japan
✅ McLaren 720S GT3
✅ Seiji Ara / ✅ Alex Palou
✅ Yokohama

Confirmed 31 January by the reformed Team Goh Motorsports, who will compete as McLaren Customer Racing Japan, with the new 720S GT3. Seiji Ara returns after a years’ hiatus from the series, while Alex Palou makes his Super GT debut.

#TBA – Phoenix Racing Asia
✅ Marchy Lee / ✅ Shawn Thong
✅ Yokohama

Team confirmed plans to enter Super GT on 21 November at the Macau Grand Prix, confirming their entry, their drivers, but not their car. auto sport expects that, breaking with Phoenix Racing’s heritage as an Audi customer team, they will field the Nissan GT-R. If that is the case, we will see their announcement confirmed on 9 February.

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