ARN Racing has announced its driver lineup for the upcoming Suzuka 10 Hours on 24-26 August, the 47th running of the Suzuka Summer Endurance Race held at Suzuka Circuit.
Their #8 Ferrari 488 GT3 will be driven by the all-Japanese Pro-Am trio of Hiroaki Nagai, Kota Sasaki, and Kohei Hirate – adding some intriguing Toyota presence to this lineup, as all three drivers race in the Autobacs Super GT Series for apr Racing and their Toyota Prius GTs.
ARN Racing won the 2017 Super Taikyu Series ST-X Class championship with Nagai, Sasaki, and its Ferrari. In 2018, it has defected over to the Blancpain GT Series Asia, where through the first four rounds, it has scored a best finish of ninth in the season-opening race at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
ARN Racing is based just 20 kilometers to the north of Suzuka in the city of Yokkaichi, and team owner/driver Nagai, and his pro running mate Sasaki, are both natives of Mie Prefecture, making this Suzuka 10 Hours a big event for the team and its star drivers.
Sasaki (above, left) won the GT300 class in the Suzuka Summer Endurance Race when it was part of the Super GT championship calendar, in 2010, 2011, and 2013, all three times with Subaru and R&D Sport, and won the 2005 GT300 Drivers’ Championship, making him one of the second division’s most successful drivers of all-time.
Nagai (right), who owns several auto dealerships across Mie Prefecture, is one of the quickest true gentleman drivers in Japan: The 50-year-old has only been racing for six years, but he’s already won the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan Gentleman Class Championship in his debut year in 2012, and is in his third year as a GT300 driver in Super GT alongside Sasaki in the #30 Toyota Prius apr GT.
While they’ve struggled for success in Super GT as a pro-am combination in recent years, they were the class of Super Taikyu last year, winning two races and scoring four podiums en route to the ST-X (FIA GT3) class title.
Adding a little more unexpected Toyota factory presence to this Ferrari squadron is 32-year-old Kohei Hirate, two-time GT500 Drivers’ Champion in 2013 with Lexus Team Cerumo and 2016 with Lexus Team SARD.
After nine seasons competing in the premier GT500 class for Lexus, Hirate has stepped back to GT300 in the #31 Toyota Prius with co-driver Koki Saga – and has already enjoyed success in his new role, scoring a second-place finish this May at the Fuji 500km.
Hirate will be entering this event for the tenth time, still looking for his first victory – his best finish to date was in the 2009 Suzuka 1000km (shortened to 700km), finishing 7th for Lexus Team SARD.
ARN Racing are the third of three Ferrari 488 GT3s entered in this year’s Suzuka 10 Hours, joining the two HubAuto Corsa entries that were confirmed earlier this month – each of them will be seeking Ferrari’s first victory in the Summer Endurance Race.