Kobayashi to race hydrogen Toyota in Fuji 24 Hours
Kamui Kobayashi will make his return to Japanese motorsport in this month’s Fuji 24 Hours driving Toyota’s experimental hydrogen-powered Corolla Sport.
Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship star Kobayashi is one of six drivers registered to share the ST-Q class car, entered by Rookie Racing, in Super Taikyu's blue riband event on May 22-23, according to a 52-car entry list released on Wednesday.
He will be joined by SUPER GT regulars Takuto Iguchi, Takamitsu Matsui and Hiroaki Ishiura, Super Taikyu specialist Masahiro Sasaki and Toyota president Akio Toyoda (using his usual nom de guerre of ‘Morizo’).
The Corolla, which burns compressed hydrogen in its turbocharged 1.6-litre inline three-cylinder engine, made its on-track debut in last month’s official Fuji 24 Hours test, with Ishiura and Sasaki both at the wheel.
Its fastest lap of 2m04.301s was around 24 seconds off the pace established by fastest ST-X (FIA GT3) cars.
It is one of two cars entered in the ST-Q class for non-homologated cars, along with Rookie Racing’s Toyota GR Supra (pictured below) – which has SUPER GT points leaders Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima on its driving strength, along with Toyoda’s son Daisuke.
#28 ORC ROOKIE Racing GR SUPRA
Photo by: Kazuya Minakoshi
Kobayashi has missed the opening two rounds of the Super Formula season owing to his commitments with Toyota’s new Le Mans Hypercar programme as well as his outing in the Sebring 12 Hours.
He will also be absent from this weekend’s Autopolis round, with Kazuto Kotaka continuing to fill in for him at KCMG, and is likewise expected to miss next month’s Sugo round.
SUPER GT stars in action at Fuji
Seven cars are entered in the top ST-X class for the Fuji 24 Hours, with extra entries from SUPER GT GT300 squads Hitotsuyama Racing (Audi R8 LMS) and CarGuy Racing (Honda NSX GT3) joining the cast of Super Taikyu regulars.
GT500 stars Ritomo Miyata (Hitotsuyama), Tsugio Matsuda (MP Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3) and Yuichi Nakayama (apr Lexus RC F GT3) will be in action in ST-X, while Ryo Hirakawa, Yuhi Sekiguchi, Katsumasa Chiyo and Mitsunori Takaboshi feature in the 10-car ST-Z class for FIA GT4-spec machines.
The 52 entries for the Fuji 24 Hours are spread across nine classes, with the lowest ST-5 category boasting the most of any in the field with 12 cars. Last year's race (pictured below) featured 45 cars and was won by the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Hirix Good Day Racing, which is not defending its title.
Photo by: Tomohiro Yoshita
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