Four of the Fanatec Japan Cup’s founding teams – Plus with BMW Team Studie, Porsche Center Okazaki, ABSSA Motorsport and LMcorsa – are returning for a second season in 2023.
The quartet, along with several other outfits, were the backbone of Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS’s then-new ‘championship within a championship’ last year when the pan-continental series established Japan’s only sprint racing platform for GT cars.
All four also competed with SRO Motorsports Group before the global pandemic forced organisers to postpone the 2020 and ’21 seasons.
Tomohide Yamaguchi and Seiji Ara return aboard the same Team Studie BMW M4 GT3 that clinched sixth overall and fourth in Fanatec Japan Cup last year courtesy of three podiums across eight races. Their car features a new livery this season.
The duo finished ahead of Porsche Center Okazaki’s Hiroaki Nagai and Yuta Kamimura in the overall standings but one place behind them in the Fanatec Japan Cup thanks, partly, to the squad’s class win at Fuji. Their final position was all the more impressive given they were unable to race at Sugo.
The team, which is now armed with Porsche’s latest 992-spec 911 GT3 R, has expanded its commitment to encompass a full-season Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS entry that includes races in Thailand and Malaysia either side of the four Japanese events held at Fuji, Suzuka, Motegi and Okayama.
LMcorsa has also upgraded to new-for-2023 machinery. The team ran a Ferrari 488 GT3 last season but is switching to the latest 296 GT3. Its existing Pro-Am duo Kei Nakanishi and Shigekazu Wakisaka join forces once again.
And there’s yet more variety in the form of ABSSA Motorsport’s McLaren 720S GT3. The team was a full-season entrant in 2019 but will focus on the four Japanese rounds this year.
Team boss Keita Sawa will again form one half of ABSSA’s driver crew after finishing fifth in the 2022 Fanatec Japan Cup standings.
“I’m so happy to be back on the Fanatec Japan Cup grid this year,” he said. “We are expecting the series to be even bigger and better than last season, and to be at a higher level, too. The team is currently talking to several potential co-drivers and we hope to announce my partner soon.”
The first of this year’s 12 one-hour races takes place at Chang International Circuit on May 12-14.