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Super GT World’s Suzuka 1000km Hall Of Fame: Part 1, GT300

R.J. O'Connell looks at the winners of the Suzuka 1000km

Super GT World’s R.J O’Connell has been hard at work recently in preparation for this weekend’s Suzuka 1000km, Super GT’s blue riband event. Here’s the first part of his International Suzuka 1000km Hall of Fame piece, which is available on Super GT World here. It’s a look back at look back at the winners of Japan’s Great Race, on the eve of the 46th and final running of the Suzuka 1000km.

The first installment covers the GT300 class, which has been a part of the Suzuka 1000km since 1999.

Non-Championship Era (1999-2005)

When the FIA GT Championship released the Suzuka 1000km from its calendar after the 1998 season, the race effectively became a non-championship invitational event for the best teams across all of Japanese sports car and endurance racing.

GT300 was first recognized as a stand-alone category for the race in 1999, a sub-category underneath the new premier category, GT500. Nine GT300 teams and cars made up the first class, part of a 29-car grid overall comprised of some of the top teams from the All-Japan GT Championship (now Super GT), the Super Taikyu Series, the original RS junior prototype class, and even a select handful of International invitees.

Team Daishin immediately stamped their authority on the race, winning their class twice in the first three years in 1999 and again in 2001.

With only a select handful of GT500 teams participating, the top contenders from GT300 were often fixtures for an overall podium. Team Taisan Jr. with Advan came close in 2000 with their brand-new Porsche 996 GT3R that finished fourth overall, a result later matched by the radical mid-engined Vemac RD320R of R&D Sport in 2002.

Finally, in 2004, Hitotsuyama Racing and Teramoto Technical Office broke through with a third-place overall result with their Porsche 911 GT3-RSR, led by GT500 champion Masami Kageyama. The following year, Verno Tokai Dream28 also scored a third-place overall result in their Vemac RD320R.

#81 Daishin Nissan Silvia – Team Daishin – Hideo Fukuyama, Noboyuki Oyagi, & Takayuki Aoki

2000: #26 Shell Taisan Advan Porsche 911 GT3R – Team Taisan Jr. with Advan – Hideshi Matsuda, Hideo Fukuyama, & Kazuyuki Nishizawa

© Suzuka Circuit

2001: #81 Daishin Advan Nissan Silvia – Team Daishin – Noboyuki Oyagi, Takayuki Aoki, & Hisashi Yokoshima

© Blue-Aoki.com

2002: #62 Vemac R&D Sport Dunlop 320R – R&D Sport – Shinsuke Shibahara & Shogo Mitsuyama

© GT Association

2003: #71 Sigma Dunlop Toyota Celica – SigmaTec Racing Team – Masaki Jyonai, Keita Sawa, & Tatsuya Kataoka

© GT Association

2004: #20 FK/Massimo Advan Porsche 911 GT3-RSR – Hitotsuyama Racing – Hisashi Wada, Masami Kageyama, & Hidetoshi Mitsusada

© MK-wave.com

2005: #2 Priveé Zurich Apple Vemac RD320R – Verno Tokai Dream28 – Kazuho Takahashi, Akira Watanabe, & Hiroki Katoh

© Honda Cars Tokai

Super GT Era (2006-2017)

For 2006, the Suzuka 1000km became part of the Super GT championship calendar, and the GT300 class winners were given equal treatment to the overall winners from GT500.

Toyota Team Cerumo with SHIFT became the first GT300 winners in the championship era in 2006, going on to score Kumho Tyres’ only Super GT victory in the process. The following year, the Mooncraft Shiden of Cars Tokai Dream28 held on in a sudden downpour to take the victory in 2007 – a race impacted by the presence of GP2 Series star Hiroki Yoshimoto, signed to the team as their “black ace” for the 1000km.

MOLA won it in 2008 en route to a last-lap championship victory in the same year, but it was in 2009 where they had their signature Suzuka 1000km, thanks to Masataka Yanagida winning the race on a last-corner, penultimate lap pass for the win in the dark of night.

2010 was the start of Subaru and R&D Sport’s dominance of the GT300 class at Suzuka, which kicked off with back-to-back wins in the abridged 2010 and 2011 races for their Subaru Legacy B4 of Tetsuya Yamano and Kota Sasaki. They’d go on to win the race again in 2013, this time partnered by young Takuto Iguchi, and in a new car – the Subaru BRZ R&D Sport.

Speaking of dominance, Team a speed authored up perhaps the most dominant Suzuka 1000km effort in GT300 history in 2012. Their Aston Martin V12 Vantage had to start at the back of the 25-car field, but within 16 laps, Kazuki Hoshino had already taken the lead of the race. Hoshino and Yoshimoto drove the V12-powered Aston until it literally caught fire en route to one of the greatest drives in modern Super GT history.

In 2014, first-year team LM Corsa stunned the field with their victory in their BMW Z4 GT3, and in 2015, the Gainer Nissan GT-R overcame a whopping 88 kilogram handicap thanks to the driving savvy of lead drivers André Couto and Katsumasa Chiyo – who held on to take the win in a time-shortened race.

2016 saw Subaru and R&D Sport take their fourth win in the last seven years, with Iguchi and Hideki Yamauchi now leading the way in the BRZ.

2006: #52 P.MU Taiyo Oil Kumho Toyota Celica – Toyota Team Cerumo – Hironori Takeuchi, Koki Saga, & Keita Sawa

© Toyota

2007: #2 Priveé Asset Mooncraft Shiden MC-16 – Cars Tokai Dream28 – Kazuho Takahashi, Hiroki Katoh, & Hiroki Yoshimoto

© Honda Cars Tokai

2008: #46 MOLA Leopalace Nissan Z – MOLA International – Kazuki Hoshino & Hironobu Yasuda

© Nissan

2009: #46 S Road MOLA Nissan Z – MOLA International – Kazuki Hoshino & Masataka Yanagida

© Keiichiro Takeshita / Motorsports Forum

2010: #62 R&D Sport Subaru Legacy B4 – R&D Sport – Tetsuya Yamano & Kota Sasaki

© Subaru Global

2011: #62 R&D Sport Subaru Legacy B4 – R&D Sport – Tetsuya Yamano & Kota Sasaki

© Subaru Global

2012: #66 triple a Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – Team a speed – Hiroki Yoshimoto, Kazuki Hoshino, & Hiroki Yoshida*

© Hiroki-Yoshimoto.com

2013: #61 Subaru BRZ R&D Sport – R&D Sport – Tetsuya Yamano, Kota Sasaki, & Takuto Iguchi

© Subaru Global

2014: #60 TWS LM Corsa BMW Z4 GT3 – LM Corsa – Akira Iida, Hiroki Yoshimoto, & Shinya Sato*

© OTG Motorsports

2015: #10 Gainer Tanax Nissan GT-R GT3 – Gainer – André Couto, Katsumasa Chiyo, & Ryuichiro Tomita

© GT Association

2016: #61 Subaru BRZ R&D Sport – R&D Sport – Takuto Iguchi & Hideki Yamauchi

© Subaru Global

*driver was entered, but did not drive during the main race

Winning Manufacturers

Nissan – 5 (1999, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2015)
Subaru – 4 (2010, 2011, 2013, 2016)
Porsche – 2 (2000, 2004)
Toyota – 2 (2003, 2006)
Vemac – 2 (2002, 2005)
Aston Martin – 1 (2012)
BMW – 1 (2014)
Mooncraft Engineering – 1 (2007)

Winning Cars

Nissan Fairlady Z33 – 2 (2008, 2009)
Nissan Silvia S15 – 2 (1999, 2001)
Porsche 911 GT3-R 996 – 2 (2000, 2004)
Subaru BRZ R&D Sport – 2 (2013, 2016)
Subaru Legacy B4 GT300 – 2 (2010, 2011)
Toyota Celica GT300 – 2 (2003, 2006)
Vemac RD320R – 2 (2002, 2005)
Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – 1 (2012)
BMW Z4 GT3 – 1 (2014)
Mooncraft Shiden MC-16 – 1 (2007)
Nissan GT-R GT3 NISMO – 1 (2015)

Winning Teams

R&D Sport – 5 (2002, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016)
Cars Tokai Dream28 – 2 (2005, 2007)
MOLA International – 2 (2008, 2009)
Team Daishin – 2 (1999, 2001)
Team a speed – 1 (2012)
Gainer – 1 (2015)
Hitotsuyama Racing – 1 (2004)
LM Corsa – 1 (2014)
Sigmatec Racing Team – 1 (2003)
Team Taisan – 1 (2000)
Toyota Team Cerumo with SHIFT – 1 (2006)

Winning Drivers (multiple winners only)

Kazuki Hoshino – 3 (2008, 2009, 2012)
Kota Sasaki – 3 (2010, 2011, 2013)
Tetsuya Yamano – 3 (2010, 2011, 2013)
Hiroki Yoshimoto – 3 (2007, 2012, 2014)
Takayuki Aoki – 2 (1999, 2001)
Hideo Fukuyama – 2 (1999, 2000)
Hiroki Katoh – 2 (2005, 2007)
Takuto Iguchi – 2 (2013, 2016)
Noboyuki Oyagi – 2 (1999, 2001)
Keita Sawa – 2 (2003, 2006)
Kazuho Takahashi – 2 (2005, 2007)

Active Former GT300 Winners: Shogo Mitsuyama (2002), Masaki Jyonai (2003), Tatsuya Kataoka (2003), Hisashi Wada (2004), Masami Kageyama (2004), Koki Saga (2006), Hironobu Yasuda (2008), Masataka Yanagida (2009), Hiroki Yoshida (2012*), Akira Iida (2014), André Couto (2015), Katsumasa Chiyo (2015), Ryuichiro Tomita (2015), Hideki Yamauchi (2016)

Winning Tyre Suppliers

Yokohama – 11 (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014)
Dunlop – 4 (2002, 2003, 2015, 2016)
Michelin – 2 (2008, 2013)
Kumho – 1 (2006)