Tag Archives: 2020

Japanese Motorsport In The Time of Coronavirus

6 July – Super GT: The entry list of the Takanoko Hotel Fuji 300km is published, with several changes to the original entry list caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions:

  • Kenta Yamashita replaces Heikki Kovalainen at TGR Team SARD (GT500)
  • arto Ping An Team Thailand withdraws (GT300)
  • Tsubasa Kondo replaces Christopher Mies at Audi Team Hitotsuyama (GT300)
  • Tsubasa Takahashi and Shinnosuke Yamada replace Yuya Motojima and Dennis Lind in the #87 JLOC entry (GT300)
  • Yuya Motojima replaces André Couto in the #88 JLOC entry (GT300)

6 July – Super GT: Bertrand Baguette confirms that he has returned to Japan and will be able to take part in the 2020 Super GT Series from the opening round onward.

4 July – Inter Proto Series: The Inter Proto Series and Kyojo Cup hold their first race meeting of the 2020 season at Fuji Speedway. In the Professional Class, Sho Tsuboi sweeps both 8-lap races. Ronnie Quintarelli finishes 2nd in Round 1 ahead of 3rd place Sena Sakaguchi, then finishes 3rd in Round 2, behind Nirei Fukuzumi in 2nd. Hideki Nagai sweeps the Gentleman & Expert Class races. And Miki Onaga wins the first race of the Kyojo Cup, ahead of Rina Ito in 2nd, and All-Japan F3 National Class race winner Ai Miura in 3rd.

3 July – TCR Japan: Only nine cars are on the inital TCR Japan Series entry list for 2020, which begins on 25-26 July at Sportsland Sugo.

29 June – Super GT: Oono Associates Co. Ltd, which owns the Takanoko Hotel and Takanoko-no-Yu hot spring in the city of Matsuyama, announces in conjunction with the GTA that they will sponsor the season-opening 300 kilometer race at Fuji Speedway, known officially as the “Takanoko Hotel Fuji GT 300km Race.”

28 June – Super Formula: Red Bull Junior Team driver Jüri Vips, who is contracted to race for Team Mugen in the 2020 Super Formula Championship, agrees to race in the FIA Formula Regional European Championship for KIC Motorsport. Vips’ manager, Marko Asmer, states that Super Formula is still the priority for his driver in 2020.

28 June – Super GT: LM Corsa and Goodsmile Racing with Team UKYO will also participate in the Super GT Online Charity Auction – and former driver Loïc Duval has also put one of his racing suits on the lot.

27-28 June – Super GT: The second and final pre-season test takes place at Fuji Speedway. Honda sets the fastest time in three out of four sessions in the GT500 class, with the outright fastest time belonging to Tadasuke Makino.

27-28 June – Porsche Carrera Cup Japan: The first and second round of the 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup Japan take place at Okayama International Circuit. Yuta Kamimura wins both races from pole, ahead of Tsubasa Kondo. Ryo Ogawa and Mizuki Ishizaka split the final podium places. Masaru Hamazaki and Ikari Goto take a win each in the Pro-Am Cup class, and Takumi Takata wins both races in the Am Cup class.

26 June – Super GT: Kovalainen, Baguette, Christopher Mies, Nicki Thiim, Alex Au, Dennis Lind, and Andre Couto are officially scratched off the entry list for the weekend’s pre-season test at Fuji due to travel restrictions. Panther arto Team Thailand will miss the test due to travel restrictions among most of its personnel, while R’Qs Motor Sports, based in Osaka, will forego the test due to budget constraints.

22 June – Super GT: 26-year-old Yu Kanamaru is announced as Keihin Real Racing’s third driver for the pre-season test at Fuji Speedway, set to replace Bertrand Baguette, the 2017 Suzuka 1000km champion who is unable to commute to Japan due to travel restrictions.

22 June – Super GT: The GTA and its partners at BH Auction announce the Super GT Online Charity Auction, which will take place on 1-2 August to benefit the Nippon Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

17 June – Formula Regional Japan: The upstart FIA Formula Regional Japanese Championship announces its revised 2020 calendar, with the season set to begin 1-2 August at Fuji Speedway. Three race meetings will support the Pirelli Super Taikyu Series. As of this date, no teams and drivers have been announced for the championship.

16 June – Super GT: Heikki Kovalainen, 2016 GT500 Champion, is among a number of drivers facing the prospect of missing races. Kenta Yamashita, the reigning GT500 Drivers’ co-Champion, is appointed as a reserve driver for TGR Team SARD at the rescheduled pre-season test at Fuji Speedway.

15 June – Nürburgring 24 Hours: Kondo Racing withdraws its Nissan Customer Racing effort from the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race.

15 June – Porsche Carrera Cup Japan: The 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup Japan schedule is released. It will not support the Autobacs Super GT Series this year, with four race meetings and eight races, starting 27/28 June at Okayama, 25/26 July at Sugo, 1/2 August at Fuji, and 19/20 September at Motegi.

13 June – Super Formula: For the first time ever, a terrestrial television deal outside of Japan is announced for the Super Formula Championship to be carried on the rebranded REV TV in Canada. Rebroadcasts of the 2019 season will begin the following day.

12 June – Formula 1: The Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix is officially cancelled, the first time the event will not be held as part of the championship since 1986.

11 June – Inter Proto Series: The 2020 Inter Proto Series and Kyojo Cup’s season opener is rescheduled to a single-day event on 4 July, to be held behind closed doors at Fuji Speedway. The second race meeting will take place on 25/26 July.

10 June – Super Formula: A wholly revised calendar is announced for the 2020 Super Formula Championship and its supporting categories. The season will begin 29/20 August at Motegi, before moving to Okayama on 26/27 September, Sugo on 17/18 October, 14/15 November at Autopolis. The double-header at Suzuka was moved to 5/6 December, and the season finale at Fuji will take place on 19/20 December. Super Formula Lights (formerly All-Japan Formula Three) will support the series in all six race weekends. TCR Japan will have a standalone race weekend at Sugo on 25/26 July.

10 June – Super Taikyu: A wholly revised calendar is announced for the 2020 Super Taikyu Series. A second pre-season test is scheduled for 30 July at Fuji, and the Fuji 24 Hours is rescheduled to 4-6 September. The remaining rounds will take place at the following dates and venues: 10-11 October at Sugo, 31 October/1 November at Okayama, 21/22 November at Motegi, 12/13 December at Autopolis, and then 23/24 January 2021 at Suzuka.

8 June – Super GT: Daiki Sasaki wins the 2020 Super GT x Gran Turismo Sport Special Race, staged at Fuji Speedway. The event is broadcast live on Super GT’s official YouTube channel on 21 June.

8 June – Super GT: The cancellation of Super GT’s round at Chang International Circuit in Thailand is made official, so the 2020 Super GT Series will conclude on 28/29 November with a fourth championship race at Fuji Speedway. For the first time since 2003, during the SARS-CoV1 pandemic, there will be no races taking place outside of Japan.

5 June – Super GT: Speaking with Motorsport Network’s Jamie Klein, both TGR Team SARD’s Heikki Kovalainen and Keihin Real Racing’s Bertrand Baguette confirm that they are still in their home countries of Finland and Belgium as of the start of April, and are among a number of drivers and personnel that face difficulties returning to test and race in Japan due to the government’s inbound travel restrictions.

4 June – Super GT: A second wholesale revision to the 2020 Super GT calendar is announced. Seven rounds are confirmed amongst three venues in central Japan. Fuji Speedway will host the 1st, 2nd, and 5th rounds on the weekends of 19 July, 9 August, and 4 October. Suzuka Circuit will host Rounds 3 and 6 on 23 August and 25 October. Twin Ring Motegi will host Rounds 4 and 7 on 13 September and 8 November. The GTA also publishes its “road map” to resume racing, including countermeasures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. The rounds at Okayama, Sugo, Autopolis, and Sepang are cancelled. This is the first year that Super GT will not visit Sugo since its inaugural 1994 season.

1 June – Asian Le Mans Series: The Asian Le Mans’ Series planned visit to Suzuka Circuit on 27-29 November is cancelled.

28 May – FIA F4 Japanese Championship: The Toyota Gazoo Racing Drivers Challenge Racing School (formerly the Formula Toyota Racing School) will not take place in 2020.

22 May – Intercontinental GT Challenge: The 49th running of the Suzuka 10 Hours Endurance Race is cancelled, the first time that Japan’s oldest endurance sports car race will not be held since 1979.

22 May – Super GT: The GTA announces the “Super GT x Gran Turismo Sport Special Race”, which will be broadcast “as live” on Super GT’s official YouTube channel on 21 June. A contest is held for GT Sport community members to design recreations of the participating drivers’ 2020 vehicles.

21 May – Nürburgring 24 Hours: Toyota Gazoo Racing withdraws its factory efforts from the delayed running of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.

14 May – Super Formula: Sho Tsuboi wins the Super Formula Virtual Series event, held at Autopolis International Racing Course, ahead of Ryo Hirakawa and Kenta Yamashita.

1 May – Super Formula: The JRP announces that a Super Formula Virtual Series event will take place, using the Gran Turismo Sport video game. The event will be broadcast “as live” on the J Sports network in Japan on 17 May, and on Grand Central Entertainment’s YouTube channel – now rebranded as the channel for the upstart publication known as The Race – on 22 May.

25 April – Super GT, Super Formula: Legendary designer and race engineer Ricardo Divila, who won multiple GT500 and Super Formula titles working for NISMO and Team Impul in the late ’90s into the 21st century, passes away.

24 April – Super Formula: The fourth round of the 2020 Super Formula Championship at Sportsland Sugo, originally scheduled for 20-21 June, is postponed.

10 April – Super Taikyu: The NAPAC Fuji Super TEC 24 Hours, originally scheduled for 5-7 June, is officially postponed.

9 April – Super Formula: As of the second week of April, the first three rounds in the 2020 Super Formula Championship have been postponed, up through Round 4 at Sportsland Sugo, which is scheduled for 20-21 June. JRP President Akira Kurashita addresses the Super Formula fans in a statement: “It is to my dismay that I must write this to our fans. The Coronavirus pandemic has spread at an alarming rate both domestically and internationally. In the midst of that, Japan Race Promotion (JRP) is keeping a watchful eye on the international race calendar, while also staying in close communication with promoters of other racing categories, manufacturers, as well as circuits regarding when we may possibly be able to hold races. As has been previously announced, the first 3 races of the season have been postponed. And due to the fact that an emergency declaration has been put in place without a clear end, we are unable to release even a tentative race calendar. Even with that said, in hopes of trying to meet the wishes of our fans, we are doing our very best to try to keep 7 races on the schedule for this season–with hopefully the first one being Rd. 4 at Sugo.”

9 April – Super Formula: Team Mugen announces that no other personnel have tested positive for Coronavirus, two weeks after news of Marko Asmer’s positive test becomes public.

7 April – Super Formula: The JRP announces that the postponed round 1 at Suzuka has been rescheduled to 14 November, and will now make up the first leg of a doubleheader weekend at Suzuka with the second leg – the 19th JAF Suzuka Grand Prix – taking place on 15 November.

6 April – Super GT: The fourth and fifth rounds at Buriram and Sepang are postponed, and with that, the series announces a first revision to its provisional 2020 calendar that is set to begin 12 July at Okayama, with Round 2 moved to Fuji on 9 August. The original dates remain intact for Sugo, Autopolis, and Motegi – for the time being.

3 April – FIA WEC: The 2020 edition 6 Hours of Fuji, an endurance event that has been run since 1967 as the Fuji 1000km, is cancelled.

3 April – Inter Proto Series: The opening round of the Inter Proto Series and Kyojo Cup at Fuji Speedway, originally scheduled for 10/11 May, is postponed.

31 March – Super GT: Masanori Sekiya departs TOM’s Racing after a 37-year association with the team as a driver and manager, and will now focus on his roles as president of the Toyota Motorsports Club and the Inter Proto Series.

31 March – Super Formula: While not named in Team Mugen’s press release, it is known that former F1 test driver and Super GT race driver Marko Asmer tests positive for Coronavirus. Asmer is the manager of Team Mugen/Red Bull Junior Team driver Jüri Vips. Team Mugen’s workshop is closed as tests begin on other personnel within the team.

31 March – Super Formula: The third round of the 2020 Super Formula Championship at Autopolis International Racing Course, originally scheduled for 16-17 May, is postponed.

30 March – Super GT: The GTA announces the postponement of the second and third rounds of the 2020 Super GT season at Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit. For the first time since 2004, there will not be a Super GT race held at Fuji during the Golden Week holiday.

30 March – Super Taikyu: The second round of the 2020 Super Taikyu Series at Sportsland Sugo, originally scheduled for 25-26 April, is postponed.

27 March – Super GT: A declaration of a State of Emergency for Shizuoka Prefecture results in the cancellation of the Super GT test at Fuji Speedway that was to begin the next day.

24-25 March – Super Formula: The pre-season test at Fuji Speedway is held as scheduled. Ryo Hirakawa sets the fastest outright time on Tuesday, while Nirei Fukuzumi leads the field on Wednesday. Many drivers continue to voice their concerns about the continued testing plans, as they did during the Super GT test at Okayama – including reigning champion Nick Cassidy: “Not comfortable about [testing], realise the Olympics is a big deal but wish the country wasn’t so naive to a problem so big.”

24 March – Olympic Games: The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo are officially postponed until 2021.

24 March – Super Formula: On the first day of official pre-season tests, Brazilian Formula 2 driver Sérgio Sette Câmara is announced as one of B-Max Racing with Motopark’s two drivers for the upcoming 2020 season, replacing countryman Pietro Fittipaldi due to what is described as “conflicting sponsors’ interests.”

18 March – Super Formula: One day after announcing that the series will proceed with a pre-season test at Fuji the following week, the JRP announces the postponement of the second round of the 2020 Super Formula Championship at Fuji, originally scheduled for 18-19 April.

18 March – Super GT: The opening round of the 2020 Super GT Series at Okayama, originally scheduled for 11/12 April, is officially postponed by the GTA. However, the second official pre-season test at Fuji will still take place on 28/29 March.

17 March – Super Formula: It is announced that the second scheduled pre-season test at Fuji Speedway will be held as scheduled, on 24-25 March, behind closed doors.

14-15 March – Super GT: The two-day pre-season test at Okayama International Circuit takes place as the sporting world at large shuts down. Nicki Thiim and Dennis Lind cannot attend as they are asked to stay in Denmark. Nattapong Horthongkum did not arrive from Thailand. While the test concludes with no major on-track drama, some drivers are still apprehensive about continuing on with the tests, despite all necessary precautions being taken to prevent the spread of Coronavirus amongst personnel.

10 March – Super GT: GTA Chairman Masaaki Bandoh attends a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia to discuss the upcoming Super GT Malaysia Festival, hoping to attract 80,000 spectators for the series’ first ever night-time sprint race. The threat of Coronavirus is looming. Farizhal Hasan of Haro Sports & Entertainment announces that 2,000 surgical masks will be donated to people in Japan, as supplies are becoming thin. Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM) plans to enter as a wildcard with Malaysian drivers Jazeman Jaafar and Adrian Henry D’Silva.

9 March – Super Taikyu: The STO officially announces that the opening round of the 2020 Super Taikyu Series has been postponed from 21-22 March, to a provisional date of 21-22 November. The Suzuka Sound of Engine festival, scheduled for the fall of 2020, is cancelled.

2 March – Super Formula: The JRP announces that the first round at Suzuka Circuit has been postponed from 4-5 April, as well as the first official pre-season test that was scheduled for 9-10 April at Suzuka.

2 March – Super Taikyu: Confirming earlier speculation, the Super Taikyu Organisation (STO) announces that the first round of the 2020 season has been postponed to a new date in either November or December.

1 March – Super GT: Super GT’s first official pre-season test at Okayama International Circuit, to be held from 14-15 March, will take place as scheduled, but without spectators in attendance.

29 February – Super Taikyu: Super Taikyu’s pre-season test is held at Fuji Speedway. After the test, driver Dirk Müller of Mercedes-AMG Team HIRIX posts on social media that the start of the season will be delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

21 February – Super GT/Super Formula: The MO-SPO Festival 2020 at Suzuka Circuit, originally scheduled for 7-8 March, is cancelled. It is the first domestic event to be postponed or cancelled due to the spread of the novel Coronavirus outbreak.

2019-20 Super GT Stove League: Seasons Greetings!

Happy holidays from Super GT World! While you’re enjoying time with family and friends, we’ve put together another Super GT Stove League update, aggregated from the pages of the latest issue of auto sport Magazine, Volume N° 1522, published digitally this week.

Naturally, this is a followup to the previous update – and gives us a clearer picture of what to expect as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan prepare to unveil their roster of GT500 teams and drivers in advance of the 2020 season, the first under the true Class 1 regulations.

As a standard disclaimer, it should be stated up front that all information contained in this post – while compiled from reputable sources that have connections with the manufacturers involved – is not confirmed as of yet until they are announced by the manufacturers, teams, and drivers involved.

Continue reading 2019-20 Super GT Stove League: Seasons Greetings!

2019-20 Super GT Stove League: First Strike

It’s that time of year again in the Japanese auto racing season. The cars themselves are silent, but the discussion of the 2020 Autobacs Super GT Series to come is anything but. Welcome to another round of the domestic racing Stove League, the “Silly Season” by another name, the winter period where the pieces of the puzzle that is the 2020 Super GT field start to take shape.

Baseball’s own Stove League is already at full burn, where teams negotiate trades and attempt to sign high-dollar free agents. After battling for Major League Baseball’s World Series, ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg just signed a record-breaking deal to remain with the championship-winning Washington Nationals. Days later, his rival from the Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole, eclipsed Strasbourg’s deal with his own record-setting contract upon joining the New York Yankees.

In Super GT, the money is never a talking point, rather the arrangement of the teams and drivers representing the big three manufacturers in GT500: Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Drivers changing teams, young drivers stepping up from GT300 or stepping in from elsewhere, and old veterans fighting to keep their places in the most competitive class in sports car racing.

Using the information from the latest issue of auto sport Magazine (Volume 1521: “Solving the Mystery of 51 Seats”), as well as the reporting from Motorsport.com contributors such as Jamie Klein, here is Super GT World’s guide to how the GT500 field might look in 2020 – and it starts with the biggest story of the off-season to date.

Continue reading 2019-20 Super GT Stove League: First Strike

GTA Chairman Bandoh outlines the future of Class One in Okayama press conference

On Sunday morning, before the start of the 2018 Autobacs Super GT Series opening round at Okayama International Circuit, GT Association (GTA) Chairman, Masaaki Bandoh, spoke to the Japanese media in his first pre-race press conference of 2018.

Bandoh-san’s main focus for his press conference was to outline Super GT’s future plans in their collaboration with the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) championship, including joint-promoted exhibition races that could take place as soon as 2019, and the proposal of a “world championship” between the two series in the near future.

Continue reading GTA Chairman Bandoh outlines the future of Class One in Okayama press conference