On Tuesday the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge revealed the first 22 entries for the 2019 BH Auction SMBC Suzuka 10 Hours on August 23/25, mostly centred around the full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge entries.
Yesterday, Suzuka Circuit announced what could be considered the “complete” entry list of 37 cars that are provisionally entered for the 48th running of the Suzuka Summer Endurance Race, with 21 confirmed All-Pro entries among the field that represents twelve different manufacturers.
Mercedes-AMG will be represented by a total of seven cars, including defending race winners GruppeM Racing from Hong Kong, who will return to try and win back-to-back Suzuka 10 Hours.
Mercedes-AMG Team Goodsmile have already locked in their trio of three-time GT300 Drivers’ Champions Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka, and reigning Daytona 24 Hours champion Kamui Kobayashi. Strakka Racing also have their drivers in for their two-car entry: Lewis Williamson, Gary Paffett, and defending race winner Tristan Vautier in their first car, and Christina Nielsen, Adam Christodolou, and Adrian Henry D’Silva in their second.
The Mercedes fleet is rounded out by Craft Bamboo Racing, SunEnergy1 Racing, and Sato-SS Racing from the Pirelli Super Taikyu Series.
Porsche are expected to field five new 911 GT3-Rs, led by the reigning Bathurst 12 Hour winners at Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM), and new customer team Absolute Racing (listed as Team Porsche).
But the fifth new Porsche is for Japanese team LM Corsa from the Autobacs Super GT Series – a special entry managed by Japanese racing legend Naoki Hattori, and headlined by another legend making his return to a GT car: Three-time Suzuka 1000km winner and three-time GT500 Champion Juichi Wakisaka (pictured above left), who will race alongside his cousin, Shigekazu Wakisaka (above right), himself a two-time overall winner of the Suzuka 1000km, plus a third driver to be named later.
Audi will be represented by Team WRT, Absolute Racing, and Hitotsuyama Racing as previously confirmed, and Ferrari will field three cars for the reigning California 8 Hours winners HubAuto Corsa, the reigning Asian Le Mans Series GT champions CarGuy Racing, and Japanese team apr with ARN Racing – who’ve confirmed their three drivers, headlined by two-time GT300 Drivers’ Champion Manabu Orido, with Hiroaki Nagai and young Yuta Kamimura.
Both Bentley and BMW will have two cars apiece scoring IGTC championship points, with BMW customer team Walkenhorst Racing confirming their drivers; Christian Krognes, Nicky Catsburg, and Mikkel Jensen. Nissan will also have no less than two cars entered from their customer team KCMG, as will Honda, who themselves will bring two cars, one from Honda Team Motul, and another for Japanese Team UPGarage from Super GT.
By far, the marquee entry in the race is two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen, driving a Japanese-entered McLaren 720S GT3 (team name TBA) alongside gentleman racer and team owner Katsuaki Kubota, and two-time Super Formula Champion and Suzuka 1000km winner Hiroaki Ishiura. That TBA entry will join the two cars from McLaren Customer Racing Japan (Team Goh Motorsports), entering from Super GT.
Representing Lamborghini are Super GT stalwarts Team JLOC, with two cars, alongside the already-confirmed Australian team AMAC Motorsport from World Challenge Asia. Aston Martin will have one of their new Vantage GT3s in the field courtesy of Garage59, who competed in this race a year ago with McLaren.
A single Chevrolet Corvette C7 GT3-R will be fielded once again by Callaway Competition with Bingo Racing: Owner/driver Shinji Takei is back, alongside his new co-drivers – Markus Pommer of Germany, and Ryo Ogawa, the 28-year-old son of the late Toyota factory racing driver Hitoshi, who won the 1987 Suzuka 1000km.
The only Mother Chassis entry will come via the Mooncraft Engineering-built Lotus Evora MC of Cars Tokai Dream28, with the ever-present duo of Kazuho Takahashi and Hiroki Katoh already entered, and a third driver to be announced.
Tairoku Racing will enter from Super Taikyu, with a car to be announced. They started the 2019 Super Taikyu season with a Ferrari 488 GT3 but will be switching to a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 starting this weekend at Sugo.
That brings the entry to 37 cars in total, already two more than last year’s Suzuka 10 Hours, with the potential for more to be announced in the coming months. Notable by their absence for a second straight year is any involvement from Toyota Gazoo Racing or Lexus Customer Racing and that’s unlikely to change with factory drivers Kobayashi and Ishiura already driving for other makes.