Ex-Honda junior Natori launches crowdfunding campaign
Ex-Honda junior driver Teppei Natori has launched a crowdfunding campaign as he aims for a return to Super Formula Lights this year.
Natori contested SF Lights last year with Honda's backing off the back of a disappointing season in FIA Formula 3, concluding the season fourth overall driving for the one-car Toda Racing squad (pictured top).
He also made an abortive attempt at making his Super Formula debut for B-Max Racing in the season-opener at Motegi, only to have to back out at the eleventh hour as he suffered from dehydration while trying to perform double duties during a particularly hot weekend.
Natori was not retained by Honda for the 2021 season, but has nonetheless secured a drive for the upcoming campaign in SUPER GT's GT300 class in an UpGarage Racing Honda NSX GT3.
He was also briefly linked to a full-time step up to Super Formula with B-Max over the winter, but the team's loss of 2020 sponsor Buzz appears to have ended any such hopes for now.
As such, Natori has turned his attention to completing a second season in SF Lights, and was in action for B-Max earlier this month for pre-season testing at Suzuka - where he set the fastest time on the second day.
Teppei Natori（TODA RACING）
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
However, B-Max has yet to name its drivers for the new season, and Natori had to share the #50 car with Nissan SUPER GT racer Nobuharu Matsushita and reigning GT300 champion Kiyoto Fujinami at Suzuka.
Ahead of this week's second pre-season test at Fuji Speedway, Natori has now created his own crowdfunding page, and is offering a variety of rewards for those who pledge their backing - including a delivery of peaches from his home prefecture of Yamanashi.
Natori's target is to raise five million yen (approx. $46,000), and as of Monday morning he had raised 800,000 yen ($7,400).
The 20-year-old appears to be the favourite for the vacant B-Max seat, judging from the entry list for this week's Fuji test released last week - which has him listed as the sole driver in the team's #50 car.
Matsushita will be back in action as well at Fuji, sharing the #51 B-Max entry with W Series regular Miki Koyama, while another Nissan GT500 racer, Daiki Sasaki, will share a car with gentleman driver Nobuhiro Imada.
Last year, B-Max took Sena Sakaguchi (below) to the runner-up spot in the SF Lights standings behind Ritomo Miyata, with both drivers stepping up to the main series for 2021 with TOM'S and Inging respectively.
The Toda seat occupied by Natori last year has gone to Honda junior driver Ren Sato, last year's French F4 runner-up.
Sena Sakaguchi（B-MAX RACING TEAM）
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
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