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Honda's Mutoh announces retirement from SUPER GT

Honda driver Hideki Mutoh has called time on his career in SUPER GT after ending the 2022 season with a fine victory at Motegi earlier this month.

Hideki Mutoh, Iori Kimura, Aguri Suzuki, #55 ARTA NSX GT3

Announcing his decision on Wednesday, Mutoh revealed that he will not return for what would have been his 13th full-season in Japan’s premier racing series in 2023.

“I thought this would be the last time I raced in a tense atmosphere, like the front line,” the 40-year-old told Motorsport.com Japan.

“In the future, I would like to participate in races that I find more fun and rewarding than ever before. 

“Of course, winning or losing is important when it comes to participating in races, but I no longer want to run with my eyes closed. I don't think so."

Mutoh joined Honda’s factory stable in SUPER GT for the first time in 2006, teaming up with Loic Duval at Nakajima Racing to win the season-ending Fuji 300km race.

A switch of focus to America would see Mutoh go on to compete in IndyCar from 2008-10, but the Japanese driver returned to SUPER GT again in 2011 as part of the Servus Japan-run ARTA team.

With ninth the best result he could muster in the eight-round championship, Mutoh spent the next two years in the GT300 class with Mugen, winning the title in his second year of participation alongside Yuhki Nakayama in the Honda CR-Z.

The title success paved the way for a return to GT500 and in the next three years the Tokyo native scored podiums for both Real Racing and Drago Corse teams.

When Mugen returned to SUPER GT’s top class in 2017, Mutoh was the team’s obvious choice given their previous success together in GT300.

However, this partnership failed to yield desired results and, after four seasons in which they had only one podium to show for their efforts, Mutoh and Mugen split after the end of the 2020 campaign.

#16 Team Mugen Honda NSX-GT: Hideki Mutoh, Daisuke Nakajima

#16 Team Mugen Honda NSX-GT: Hideki Mutoh, Daisuke Nakajima

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Mutoh spent most of the 2021 season on the sidelines, save for a cameo outing at Team Kunimitsu to replace an ill Tadasuke Makino, but returned to action again this year to lead ARTA in GT300.

Paired alongside the young and talented Iori Kimura, Mutoh showed some strong qualifying results this year before bagging a memorable victory at Motegi at the beginning of this month.

As it has turned out, Motegi was Mutoh’s final outing in SUPER GT, with the 40-year-old having decided it’s time to step away from the championship.

The decision comes ahead of the expected exit of ARTA from GT300 class in 2023.

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“Of course I was happy when I won the final race, but if it was before, I think I would have been more passionate from within,” he said of his result.

Mutoh, however, has no plans to hang up his helmet and is looking for other opportunities to continue racing in 2023. He is already due to drive the new Honda Civic Type R in the Super Taikyu finale at Suzuka later this month.

“I love racing and cars, so I’m not going to put a stop to it. It's more fun to keep working," he said.

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