5ZIGEN makes Fanatec Japan Cup move with Hirobon, Kawabata and Nissan

5ZIGEN makes Fanatec Japan Cup move with Hirobon, Kawabata and Nissan

Reigning Super Taikyu champions Team 5ZIGEN makes its Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS debut this season with Hirobon, Shintaro Kawabata and a Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.

Established in 1989, the team has an illustrious history in its native Japan where its former programmes include JGTC/Super GT, F3000/Formula Nippon, domestic F3 and rallying.

It then spent 10 years providing technical cooperation in various categories, including Super GT300, before switching to Super Taikyu’s ST-Z class (GT4) in 2020. Winning that title last season was the catalyst for returning to GT3, both in Super Taikyu – where its Nissan, Hirobon and Kawabata won the opening round at Suzuka in March – and Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia’s four-round Fanatec Japan Cup.

Hirobon’s racing career has, for the most part, centred on TCR Japan where he claimed the drivers’ championship last season. He’s joined by Super GT race winner Kawabata who will continue to compete in the GT300 class this season.

“Fanatec Japan Cup made a big impression domestically last season and we were very interested to become a part of this competitive sprint series,” said team manager Shingo Takemura. “On the one hand, in Super Taikyu our drivers have a Pro-Am endurance format, and on the other a sprint GT racing environment that is unique in Japan. The latter is also closer to Hirobon’s existing TCR experience.

“We had a great start at Suzuka in March and hope to bring that form with us into Fanatec Japan Cup. The Nissan remains a very competitive GT3 car so we expect to fight for class wins and podiums at circuits 5ZIGEN and our drivers already know very well.” 

The wider Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia season begins at Chang International Circuit in Thailand on May 12-14 before Fuji opens the Fanatec Japan Cup ‘championship within a championship’ one month later. Suzuka, Motegi and Okayama complete the four-round domestic series, while Sepang in Malaysia closes out the 2023 campaign.