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Ex-F1 racer Merhi to make SUPER GT debut at Fuji

Ex-Formula 1 racer Roberto Merhi will make his SUPER GT debut next month at Fuji driving for the Team LeMans Audi squad.

Roberto Merhi, Campos Racing

Merhi will share the #6 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II with the team's regular driver Yoshiaki Katayama and Shintaro Kawabata in the Fuji 450km on May 3-4.

Satoshi Motoyama, who usually shares the Team LeMans car with Katayama, was mysteriously absent from the team's line-up when the entry list for the second round of the season was published on Tuesday.

In addition, the team is no longer listed as 'Motoyama Racing w/ Team LeMans' as it was for the Okayama opener.

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Merhi, who drove for the now-defunct Marussia F1 team in 2015, has raced mostly in LMP2 machinery in recent years, but did gain experience of Audi's GT3 car in last year's GT World Challenge Australia finale at Bathurst.

His addition to the Team LeMans line-up follows his appearance in the Australian S5000 Tasman Series alongside Katayama, the ex-All-Japan Formula 3 driver that made his SUPER GT debut last year.

While there has not yet been a formal announcement from either team or driver, Motorsport.com understands that Merhi is slated to participate in the remainder of the season, beginning with Fuji.

That's despite Motoyama and Katayama scoring their first points finish as a duo last weekend at Okayama in fifth place.

#6 Team LeMans Audi R8 LMS

#6 Team LeMans Audi R8 LMS

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Kawabata meanwhile returns from the sidelines for the Fuji race, having lost his drive when long-time Audi SUPER GT squad Hitotsuyama Racing announced it would sit out the 2022 season.

Elsewhere on the Fuji 450km entry list, there are a number of other changes in the GT300 class.

BMW Team Studie has its registered third driver Tsubasa Kondo named alongside team regulars Seiji Ara and Augusto Farfus.

Kondo took part in pre-season testing alongside Ara, with Farfus absent, and is set to deputise for the Brazilian when his other commitments as a BMW factory driver make him unavailable.

The Gainer Nissan squad will also enter its registered third driver Yusuke Shiotsu, who joins Ryuichiro Tomita and Riki Okusa, while Super Formula Lights racer Hibiki Taira is set to drive with the apr Toyota squad in the team's GR86 with Hiroaki Nagai and Manabu Orido.

Takeshi Kimura returns to Pacific CarGuy Racing alongside Kei Cozzolino after missing the Okayama opener due to a European Le Mans Series clash, and the Max Racing squad that skipped the race entirely is set for its first outing of the season with Kimiya Sato and Atsushi Miyake in its Toyota GR Supra.

That brings up the size of the grid for Fuji to 43 cars, with the car count in the GT300 class rising to 28.

  • Stream every qualifying session and race of the 2022 SUPER GT season only on Motorsport.tv.

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