Satoshi Motoyama, one of the most successful Japanese racing drivers of all time, is returning to active Super GT competition in 2021.
As first reported in the Tokyo Chunichi Sports newspaper Friday morning – Motoyama, a three-time GT500 Drivers’ Champion in Super GT, and a four-time champion in Japanese Top Formula racing, will partner with Team Le Mans, racing in GT300 under the banner of “Team LeMans with Motoyama Racing” and fielding the number 6 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Motoyama won his first Top Formula title in 1998, driving for Team LeMans – who were previously affiliated with Toyota as a factory GT500 team from 1999 until 2019. Last season, Team LeMans supported Audi Team Hitotsuyama as a vehicle maintenance garage.
Motoyama announced his retirement from full-time GT500 driving duties after the 2018 season, ending a 22-year run as Nissan’s ace GT500 driver. He remained semi-active in lower categories over the past two seasons, racing in Super Taikyu in 2019 with Tairoku Racing with B-Max Engineering, and taking part in one-off appearances in both the Formula Regional Japanese Championship (with Team Goh) and Super Formula Lights (with B-Max Engineering and Rebellion Timepieces) towards the end of 2020.
Motoyama has also served as Team Principal of B-Max Racing since 2018, and as an executive advisor for Nissan’s GT500 programme since 2019.
His co-driver will be Yoshiaki Katayama, a 27-year-old rookie to the series graduating from Super Formula Lights. The son of current Team LeMans owner Yoshinori Katayama, Yoshiaki Katayama won the 2016 All-Japan Formula Three National Class Championship, before stepping up to the main championship starting from 2017 to 2019. In 2018, Katayama was selected as a Porsche Scholarship Driver in the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan series, and he has also tested in Super Formula with the team that his father owns.
This will be Motoyama’s first GT300 drive since 1996, when he broke into the All-Japan GT Championship (JGTC) in an Impul-run Nissan Silvia S14. And, it will be the first time that Motoyama has raced in the series in anything other than a Nissan – the manufacturer with whom Motoyama has also made four appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1998, 1999, 2012, and 2014, the penultimate start the most memorable for Motoyama’s efforts to try and repair his stricken DeltaWing after an accident.
The team’s tyre partners, management, sponsors, and livery will be announced at a later date.