A new Japanese team, Maezawa Racing, will contest this year’s four Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS rounds in Japan with drivers Piti Bhirombhakdi and Naoki Yokomizo.
The team, which is entering a Ferrari 488 GT3 at Fuji, Suzuka, Motegi and Okayama, has been established by the country’s well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist Yusaku Maezawa. The 47-year-old Start Today CEO shot to global fame in 2021 when he visited the International Space Station but is also a serial art collector who has invested heavily in contemporary works.
Now another of his passions, the MZ Supercar Project, has led him to form his own motorsport team.
“As a way to further understand the performance and possibilities that is enhanced through the craftsmanship behind car building, and to share that knowledge with everyone, I’ve decided to step foot into the racing industry and participate in my first race as a team,” said Maezawa.
The team’s Pro-Am driver line-up is not eligible to score Fanatec Japan Cup points but will be a contender for overall victories given its pedigree and championship experience.
Thai racer Bhirombhakdi has a reputation for being one of Asia’s fastest amateurs whose experience extends beyond his own continental Fanatec GT series. He is also no stranger to the 488 GT3 that Maezawa Racing has entered this year.
Yokomizo, meanwhile, is a former Super GT300 champion who won Fanatec GT Asia’s Silver class title last season while managing the MZ Supercar Project on Maezawa’s behalf. He and Kei Cozzolino also became the championship’s first Japanese race winners at Fuji in 2017.
Reigning Fanatec GT Asia and Fanatec Japan Cup champions CarGuy Racing will oversee the Maezawa Racing entry.
Fuji stages rounds three and four of the 2023 campaign on June 16-18.