Perennial GT300 underdogs Arnage Racing have made a big splash in the Super GT driver market, signing two-time GT500 and GT300 Drivers’ Champion, Masataka Yanagida, to drive the #50 Arnage Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in 2021 alongside the returning Masaki Kano.
Yanagida, 41, is best known for his time as a second-generation Nissan factory racing driver in Super GT. He spent two stints with Nissan in the GT500 class from 2005-2008, and another from 2011-2016. It was during his second GT500 run that Yanagida won back-to-back premier class titles alongside Ronnie Quintarelli at MOLA International, in 2011 and 2012. Prior to that, Yanagida won two GT300 titles with Hasemi Motor Sport – his first in 2003, and his second in 2010, making him the only driver to win championships in both classes on multiple occasions.
After racing with Audi Team Hitotsuyama in 2017, Yanagida appeared only once in the next two seasons as he prioritized a two-year run in the Superrace Championship in Korea. Then in 2020, Yanagida made a full-time Super GT return to Cars Tokai Dream28, giving their Lotus Evora MC its first-ever GT300 victory at Fuji Speedway in August, as well as the team’s first since 2010.
A veteran of 146 championship races run since his debut in 2001, Yanagida has been brought in to help Arnage Racing “get out of the ‘C Class’,” in the words of Team President and Director, Muneharu Ito, a veteran of over 30 years in the racing industry as a mechanic, engineer, and team director.
The independent team based near Suzuka in the city of Yokkaichi, hasn’t scored a top-ten finish in GT300 since the 2018 round at Okayama, and hasn’t scored a podium since finishing 2nd at Autopolis in 2013. They are one of the few teams still fielding a true pro-am driver lineup in the category, which will admittedly continue into 2021.
Masaki Kano, the team’s stalwart gentleman driver, will return for his seventh full-time campaign at Arnage Racing. Kano was Arnage Racing’s only full-time driver last season, racing alongside a rotation of Ryosei Yamashita, Kizuku Hirota, and Hideto Yasuoka. The lineup of Kato & Yasuoka came close to a breakthrough points finish in the last round of the season at Fuji, finishing a season-best 11th place.
The #50 Arnage AMG GT3 will run on Yokohama tyres, and Team Director Ito will be joined by second-year Chief Engineer Yasushi Matsuyama.