The GT Association (GTA) has published the preliminary entry list for the upcoming 2017 Autobacs Super GT Series, with a grand total of 45 cars on the roster.
15 cars will enter the GT500 category in 2017, with 30 cars entered in the GT300 category, and 75 drivers were confirmed for seats between the two categories as well – though many open seats still remain as the series gears up for the two official pre-season tests in March.
The GT500 class will feature the substantially revised 2017 cars, including the new-model Lexus LC500 and the updated Honda NSX-GT and Nissan GT-R.
All fifteen team and driver combinations were confirmed in the weeks and months before the entry list was published, headlined by the return of Kazuki Nakajima to Lexus Team TOM’s, the GT500 promotion of Jann Mardenborough at Calsonic Team Impul, and the GT500 return of Team Mugen with drivers Hideki Mutoh and Daisuke Nakajima
James Rossiter and Nick Cassidy swapped rides within Lexus Team TOM’s, João Paulo Lima de Oliveira returned to Kondo Racing, and Takashi Kobayashi returns to GT500 with ARTA, replacing Nakajima Racing-bound Kosuke Matsuura.
But it’s the GT300 entry list that’s of most intrigue, with 30 teams on the preliminary entry list, representing 11 different manufacturers and 14 unique models of vehicles.
Officially confirmed with today’s announcement was the driver lineup of Takamitsu Matsui and Kenta Yamashita at reigning GT300 champions VivaC Team Tsuchiya, in the #25 VivaC Toyota MC86 by Dome Racing. Yamashita, the reigning All-Japan Formula Three Champion, replaces the retiring Takeshi Tsuchiya.
Jörg Müller and Seiji Ara return to BMW Team Studie for a fourth consecutive season, the duo looking to bounce back from a frustrating 2016 season and record their first race win with Studie in 2017.
Two more veteran driver lineups were also confirmed for 2017: Kazuho Takahashi and Hiroki Katoh in the Mooncraft Engineering-built Lotus Evora MC for Cars Tokai Dream28, and Hisashi Wada and Masaki “Guts” Jyonai also return with R’Qs Motor Sports, fielding their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 for at least the start of another season.
Arnage Racing will enter an alliance with INGING Motorsport, and field a car for ex-LM Corsa drivers Akihiro Tsuzuki and three-time GT300 champion Morio Nitta. It is expected to be the Ferrari 488 GT3 that Tsuzuki and Nitta drove last season, which would be the twelfth make and fifteenth different model in the field.
Scottish second-generation racer Sean Walkinshaw defects from Nissan in the Blancpain GT Series to join Autobacs Racing Team Aguri in their BMW M6 GT3, partnering 2002 GT300 champion Shinichi Takagi.
Toyota Team Thailand are now entered as “Panther Team Thailand”, and will feature an all-Thai driver lineup of Nattavude Charoensukhawatana and Nattapong Horthongkum. Both drivers in their first full season in Super GT, and Nattapong is set to make his first ever start in the series this year.
Sophomore driver Shinnosuke Yamada moves to Team Taisan SARD from Team Upgarage with Bandoh after just one season – the 24-year-old is the only driver confirmed in the #26 Taisan SARD Audi R8 LMS.
Likewise with gentleman racer Atsushi Tanaka, who is the only driver listed in the #360 RunUp Sports Nissan GT-R for Tomei Sports.
Lamborghini Team Direction are unfortunately missing from the 2017 entry, meaning that Lamborghini’s sole representation this year will come from two Huracan GT3s entered by JLOC.
JLOC, Team Upgarage with Bandoh, Dijon Racing, Rn-sports, and Team Mach have yet to confirm any of their drivers for 2017, in addition to the “TBA” seats at D’Station Racing, Team Taisan SARD, and Tomei Sports.