On Friday, Honda announced their 2018 Autobacs Super GT Series driver lineups during a live presentation from the Tokyo Auto Salon at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.
The focal point of the presentation was the formal introduction of Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, who was confirmed to drive the #100 Raybrig Honda NSX-GT for Team Kunimitsu, one of the most popular cars in the championship, run by racing legend Kunimitsu Takahashi.
Button, a veteran of over 300 Grand Prix starts with 15 career victories and a World Drivers’ Championship in 2009, will be the first Formula 1 World Champion to campaign a full season in Super GT.
His co-driver is Naoki Yamamoto, a former race winner entering his ninth GT500 campaign – in the car that finished 7th in the GT500 Championships, the best of all the Honda teams in 2017.
Former Team Kunimitsu driver Takuya Izawa has been moved to Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (ARTA), where he’ll join Tomoki Nojiri in the #8 ARTA NSX-GT. Izawa raced for ARTA from 2008 to 2009 during his first two seasons in GT500, winning twice in 2009. ARTA won the Fuji 300km last August from pole position.
The rest of the lineups remain unchanged from 2017, however, as Real Racing will return the experienced duo of Koudai Tsukakoshi and 2010 GT500 Drivers’ Champion Takashi Kogure to drive the #17 Keihin NSX-GT.
ARTA, Team Kunimitsu, and Real Racing will continue to use Bridgestone Potenza tyres in 2018.
Continuing a class-exclusive partnership with tyre supplier Dunlop will be the winners of the final Suzuka 1000km, Nakajima Racing, who also retain their driver lineup of Bertrand Baguette and Kosuke Matsuura in the #64 Epson NSX-GT.
Team Mugen, in their second year of their current GT500 tenure, look to rise out of the bottom of the standings as they keep 2012 GT300 champion Hideki Mutoh, and Daisuke Nakajima on board, running Yokohama Tyres on the #16 Motul Mugen NSX-GT.
Shortly after the announcement of the GT500 programme, Honda announced in a press release that the Drago Corse team would return to Super GT after a year out, and enter the GT300 category with a brand-new Honda NSX GT3 under the name Modulo Drago Corse.
The news also comes with the announcement that team founder, and former GT500 Drivers’ Champion and Honda racing legend Ryo Michigami, would return to the series as the team’s lead driver!
Michigami entered 126 races from 1995 through 2014, winning eight GT500 races during his career and the Drivers’ Championship for Mugen/Dome in 2000. He’s focused on team management since 2014, previously running Drago Modulo Honda Racing in GT500 in 2015 & 2016.
In 2017, he scaled back his team’s activity as he competed full-time in the FIA World Touring Car Championship as a driver, and in All-Japan Formula 3 as a team owner.
Michigami’s co-driver is 23-year-old Hiroki Otsu, a graduate of the Japanese F3 championship who finished 5th in the championship with a victory in the final race.
They’ll join Super GT newcomers CarGuy Racing as the second customer of the NSX GT3 as it embarks on its first full season of competition in Japan.
#8: Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (Bridgestone)
Tomoki Nojiri & Takuya Izawa
#16: Team Mugen (Yokohama)
Hideki Mutoh & Daisuke Nakajima
#17: Real Racing (Bridgestone)
Koudai Tsukakoshi & Takashi Kogure
#64: Nakajima Racing (Dunlop)
Bertrand Baguette & Kosuke Matsuura
#100: Team Kunimitsu (Bridgestone)
Naoki Yamamoto & Jenson Button
#34: Modulo Drago Corse (Tyre TBD)
Ryo Michigami & Hiroki Otsu